Three lucky passengers will join Amazon founder Jeff Bezos Tuesday on Blue Origin’s first commercial spaceflight.
The manifest for the 11-minute trip to the edge of space includes the billionaire’s brother, Mark Bezos, trailblazing aviator Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen, a wealthy teenager from the Netherlands.
The motley crew will be aboard the space-tourism company’s New Shepard rocket, which is set to blast off around 9 a.m. ET from Van Horn, Texas.
Here’s what you need to know about the soon-to-be astronauts:
Financier Mark Bezos
Mark, 51, is the Amazon founder’s younger brother by six years. The pair are “best friends,” Jeff said in a video on Instagram last month, in which he surprised Mark with an invitation to space.
“Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space. On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend,” Jeff posted.
The younger Bezos is also successful in business, getting his start in marketing, working as an advertising executive before he founded New York-based private equity firm HighPost Capital in 2019.
In addition, Mark is a director of the Bezos Family Foundation and an exec at Robin Hood, a poverty-fighting nonprofit also based in New York.
He has also served as a volunteer firefighter with the Scarsdale Fire Department in Westchester County for more than a decade.
Trailblazer Wally Funk
At 82, Funk will become the oldest ever astronaut, fulfilling a longtime ambition stymied by sexism in the 1960s.
The New Mexico native was 22 when she joined the Mercury 13 program, a group of intrepid women who in 1961 underwent the same training as NASA’s male astronauts.
But the program was nixed and the women were never allowed to go to space.
In an Instagram post announcing that Funk was joining the mission, Bezos wrote that “No one has waited longer,” adding: “It’s time.”
Funk, who took her first flying lesson at the age of 9, still broke barriers in aviation — becoming the first female Federal Aviation Administration inspector and first female National Transportation Safety Board air safety investigator.
Asked by Bezos what she would say after touching back down on earth, the pioneering octogenarian replied, “I will say, ‘Honey, that’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me’ and give you a hug!”
Dutch teen Oliver Daemen
Daemen, 18, is set to make history as the youngest astronaut. He is also Blue Origin’s first paying customer, after his father, the founder and CEO of a private equity firm, bought him a ticket, according to CNBC.
The teen is replacing the anonymous winner of a $28 million public auction, who had to bow out of the inaugural flight “due to scheduling conflicts,” and will go on a later trip.
Daemen’s dad Joes Daemen was another bidder in last month’s auction for the seat, but dropped out when the bids began to skyrocket. It’s not known how much he shelled out for his son’s ticket.
The younger Daemen took a year off after graduating from high school last year to obtain his private pilot’s license. He’s set to attend the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands in September to study physics and innovation management.
The mission will “fulfill a lifelong dream” for Daemen, a longtime space and aviation enthusiast, Blue Origin said in a statement.
It seems the teen is also a fan of water sports: He has posted several photos of himself snorkeling, surfing and wakeboarding on Instagram over the years.
“I am super excited to go into space,” Daemen said in a video posted on social media. “I’ve been dreaming about this all my life.”