Blue Origin’s first crewed flight minted four new astronauts

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The world’s richest man Jeff Bezos, his brother, a Dutch teenager who is now the youngest ever astronaut and a barrier-breaking female US aviator who is now the oldest have now been to space.

Here is a brief look at the crew of Blue Origin’s historic first human flight on Tuesday (July 20):

The tycoon, Jeff Bezos

Mr Jeff Bezos, 57, left 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. Mr Bezos’ net worth is today estimated at more than US$200 billion (S$273.64 billion).

The brother, Mark Bezos

Mr Jeff Bezos 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.

Trailblazer Wally Funk

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

Ms Funk, who took her first flying lesson at age nine, excelled in the privately funded Mercury 13 project, which was intended to train women for space using the same standards as male astronauts prepared by the US space agency Nasa, but the program 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

Mr Oliver Daemen, 18, has become the youngest-ever astronaut. He holds a private pilot’s licence and is a space enthusiast who will study physics at university.

The Dutch teen flew 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.

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