Not to be outdone, Amazon co-founder and now-former CEO Jeff Bezos is set to go to space later this month. However, the billionaire’s journey is prompting another question—who’s going with him to space? Bezos will be joined by Wally Funk, one of the 13 women who passed NASA's astronaut training program in the 1960s,.
Funk was the youngest member of the “Mercury 13,” a group of 13 women tested and trained for NASA’s astronaut program. However, the program was canceled, and neither Funk nor any of the other women ever went to space.
Now, Funk, 82, is set to become the oldest person to go to space. Bezos announced in an Instagram post on Jul. 8 that she would be joining him, his brother, Mark Bezos, and a then unnamed winner of an auction for Blue Origin’s first crewed spaceflight on Jul. 20. That winner turned out to be 18-year-old Oliver Daeman, son of Joes Daeman, the Dutch CEO of private equity firm Somerset Capital Partners.
Where are Jeff Bezos and his crew launching from?
On Jul. 20, Bezos and his crew members will take off in a fully automated capsule named New Shepard. The launch will take place in a remote desert area in West Texas, just outside of the small town of Van Horn and about 120 miles southeast of El Paso.
New Shepard is a reusable launch vehicle that takes off and lands vertically. Consisting of a pressurized crew capsule and booster rocket, the vehicle is controlled by computers without relying an onboard human pilot or ground control.
The vehicle and crew will ascend to an altitude of around 62 miles to the Kármán line, where space begins.
What is Jeff Bezos’a Corn Ranch?
The exact site of the launch and landing is Bezos’a Texas spaceport, known as Corn Ranch. The Amazon founder purchased the 165,000-acre parcel of land in 2006 to eventually support commercial space flights. Corn Ranch saw its first flight later that year, in November. Since then, Blue Origin has conducted 18 launches and 17 landings.
Who is the fourth person on the flight?
Nearly 7,600 people from 159 countries registered to bid on the fourth and final seat aboard the New Shepard, with Daeman, a physics student, nabbing the winning bid. Daeman's father paid more than $28 million for his son to join Bezos on the 11-minute space ride.
Daeman also reportedly paid a 6 percent buyer’s commission, bringing the total cost of the ticket to nearly $30 million. The auction took about a month and consisted of three phases.
The proceeds from the winning ticket will be donated to Blue Origin’s Club for the Future foundation. This educational science charity aims to “inspire future generations to pursue careers” in science, technology, and math and inspire the next generation of space exploration.