Student, 18, joining Jeff Bezos in orbit will be youngest person to fly to space

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A teenager is set to become the youngest person to fly to space when he joins billionaire Jeff Bezos on his Blue Origin rocket ship.

Oliver Daemen will fly in place of an anonymous public auction win who bid a staggering $28 million (£20 million) for a seat on the rocket, only to realise they had a "scheduling conflict".

The 18-year-old's dad had won a seat on the second flight but was moved up to the first when the winning bidder pulled out. The mysterious winner has deferred his trip.

The teenager, a physics student, is the son of Somerset Capital Partners CEO Joes Daemen from the Netherlands.

Oliver will join 82-year-old Wally Funk, who will become the oldest ever person in space, Mr Bezos, and the billionaire's brother Mark on the New Shepard rocket.

The previous winner of the auction has remained anonymous, even as the launch edged closer, and the nature of the "conflicts" which led to their withdrawal have not been disclosed.

It has been reported the flight will fulfil a lifelong dream for the teen. He "has been fascinated by space, the Moon and rockets since he was four".

Blue Origin have not said how much Mr Daemen's ticket cost.

The firm will launch its passengers more than 100km (62 miles) above the Earth's surface on Tuesday, allowing them to experience microgravity and weightlessness.

Blue Shepard will then return to Earth using parachutes on a trip expected to last around 10 minutes.

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Mr Bezos has ambitious plans for Blue Origin's space travel. He created the company in 2000 and announced last month that he and his brother would embark on its first manned flight.

The billionaire described it as something he had wanted to do "all my life".

It is set to come a little more than a week after Mr Bezos's billionaire rival Sir Richard Branson successfully reached the edge of space on board his Virgin Galactic rocket last week.

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The achievement led to some criticism from Blue Origin about whether Sir Richard actually went to space due to the height reached.

It was below the Kármán Line, the internationally-recognised boundary between Earth's atmosphere and outer space.

But the Virgin Galactic rocket did top the mark recognised by NASA and the British billionaire said he was going to ignore the critics.

  • Space
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