Teen on space flight told Bezos: I've never ordered from Amazon

Dutch student Oliver Daemen was picked for the Blue Origin flight after another candidate cancelled at the last minute.
Dutch student Oliver Daemen was picked for the Blue Origin flight after another candidate cancelled at the last minute.PHOTO: REUTERS

AMSTERDAM • The Dutch teen-ager who became the world's youngest space traveller last week surprised billionaire Jeff Bezos on the flight by telling him that he had never ordered anything on Amazon.com.

Mr Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old physics student, accompanied Mr Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos and 82-year-old female aviator Wally Funk - the oldest person to go to space - on a 10-minute trip beyond Earth's atmosphere.

Mr Bezos funded exploration company Blue Origin by selling billions of dollars' worth of stock in his online delivery business Amazon.

"I told Jeff, like, I've actually never bought something from Amazon," the teen told Reuters in an interview on Friday at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. "And he was like, 'oh, wow, it's a long time ago I heard someone say that'."

Mr Daemen, who was picked after another candidate bidding US$28 million (S$38.1 million) for the ride cancelled at the last minute, found out he would be joining the flight while on a family holiday in Italy.

"They called and said: Are you still interested?' and we were like 'Yes! Yes! Yes!'"

The teenager had dreamt of space travel since he was a child, followed every development by space exploration companies like Blue Origin and got his pilot's licence at a young age.

"We didn't pay even close to US$28 million, but they chose me because I was the youngest and I was also a pilot and I also knew quite a lot about it already," he said.

"It was my ultimate, ultimate goal ... but I never thought it was going to be this soon."

The crew received two days of safety training, but nothing very hard, said Mr Daemen, who can be seen in a video of the trip tossing ping-pong balls in weightlessness with Mr Bezos.

Mr Daemen, who is set to start at Utrecht University in September, said he was not sure what he wanted to do later in life, but would seriously consider a career in space travel.

Asked what it was like travelling in a rocket ship with a billionaire, he said: "They were super fun and all down to earth, as funny as that may sound."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 25, 2021, with the headline 'Teen on space flight told Bezos: I've never ordered from Amazon'. Subscribe