Who’s who on Blue Origin’s first crewed flight

Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos addresses the media about the New Shepard rocket booster and Crew Capsule mockup at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States April 5, 2017. — Reuters pic
Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos addresses the media about the New Shepard rocket booster and Crew Capsule mockup at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States April 5, 2017. — Reuters pic

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WASHINGTON, July 18 — Blue Origin’s maiden crewed flight on Tuesday involves four people who will cross the Karman line, which separates Earth’s atmosphere from space, for the very first time.

Here is a brief look at the quartet of soon-to-be astronauts.

The tycoon, Jeff Bezos   

Jeff Bezos, 57, will leave behind the planet where he made his vast fortune for a few minutes on a spaceship built by the company he founded in 2000, when he was still merely a single-digit billionaire.

Six years before that, he started a small online bookstore called Amazon.com out of his garage. Bezos’ net worth is today estimated at more than US$200 billion (RM842 billion).

The brother, Mark Bezos

Jeff Bezos has invited along his brother Mark, a financier who directs the Bezos Family Foundation and works as a volunteer firefighter.

The pair are best friends, and Jeff shared the moment he surprised his sibling, six years his junior, by asking him to join the mission in a video that went viral on Instagram last month.

Trailblazer Wally Funk

At 82, barrier-breaking woman aviator Wally Funk is about to become the oldest ever astronaut, fulfilling a lifelong dream that was thwarted by the sexism of the early space era.

Funk, who took her first flying lesson aged nine, excelled in the Mercury 13 project which was intended to train women for space using the same standards as male astronauts, but the programme was eventually nixed.

She nevertheless had an accomplished career in aviation, becoming the first female air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, and serving as chief pilot in several flight schools.

Dutch teen Oliver Daemen

Oliver Daemen, 18, is set to become the youngest astronaut. He holds a private pilot’s licence and is a space enthusiast who will study physics in university this fall.

The Dutch teen is flying in place of the still anonymous winner of a US$28 million public auction, who asked to pass this time because of “scheduling conflicts,” and will go on a later trip.

Daemen’s ticket was paid for by his father, the CEO of a private equity firm, CNBC reported. — AFP

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