Meet Oliver Daemen: The millionaire’s son, 18, is going to space with Jeff Bezos but only follows Elon Musk

·2-min read

He might not want to call "shotgun".

In what could make for an awkward road trip, the 18-year-old hitching a ride into orbit with Jeff Bezos seems to be a bigger fan of Elon Musk.

Oliver Daemen will become the youngest person in space after the original paying customer gave up his $28m ticket aboard the New Shepard rocket. He had double-booked the 20 July takeoff.

In a new Twitter handle seemingly created on 21 June for the occasion, Mr Daemen follows only 11 accounts as of Thursday morning, none of which are that of Mr Bezos.

There is Mr Musk, however, along with the official account of SpaceX, a fierce competitor of Mr Bezos and his Blue Origin company. Mr Oliver does follow the Blue Origin official account, along with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Nasa, and the International Space Station.

Other than Mr Musk, the only four other personalities he currently follows are Joe Biden, the US Space Force’s general Jay Raymond, the Netherland’s Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Dutch F1 driver Max Verstappen.

The Netherlands high-school graduate on a gap year, bound for the University of Utrecht to study physics and innovation management, was announced as the final passenger after the original ticket holder dropped out and the seat was offered to a runner-up.

Blue Origin said it would "fulfill a lifelong dream for Oliver”, who has been fascinated by space, the Moon, and rockets since he was four. They did not say how he was selected or how much was paid for the ticket.

In the live auction streamed on 12 June, bidding started at $4.8m among 20 bidders with increasing at increments up to $1m until the runner-up bid at $27m before the gavel hit the sale at $28m.

Unless Mr Oliver had the best summer job for a teenager ever, his father Joes Daemn is a likely candidate for the winning bid that he then gave to his son.

Mr Daemen is CEO and founder of hedgefund Somerset Capitol Partners, which says he founded in 2009 to combine his background in real estate investing, financial markets and private equity. Which checks out.

He will join Wally Funk, who is aged 82 and will become the oldest person to go to space. Mr Bezos and his brother Mark will make up the rest of the passengers.

“We thank the auction winner for their generous support of Club for the Future and are honoured to welcome Oliver to fly with us on New Shepard,” said Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin. “This marks the beginning of commercial operations for New Shepard, and Oliver represents a new generation of people who will help us build a road to space.”

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