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Meet the crew launching on Blue Origin's 1st astronaut flight on July 20

Blue Origin is in the final countdown to launch is first crewed flight on Tuesday (July 20) and the company will have an all-civilian crew aboard.

Billionaire founder Jeff Bezos has nabbed a lot of the media attention, but he won't be the only crew member on board. Also riding him will be Bezos' brother Mark, 82-year-old Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk, and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old physics student.

You can watch the flight Tuesday starting at 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT) and streaming may be available on Space.com, depending on how the broadcast is run. A typical New Shepard flight is 11 minutes long, and following the flight, the crew will participate in a press conference.

Related: How to watch Blue Origin launch Jeff Bezos into space on July 20
Live updates: Blue Origin's first astronaut launch updates

New Shepard is an automated spaceflight system and all of the crew will be rookie astronauts, although Funk is a highly experienced aviator with close to 20,000 hours as a pilot and instructor. Here's a mini-introduction to each of the crew members.

Jeff Bezos, 57, founded Blue Origin in 2000. Bezos wanted to go to space as a teenager, but determined he would do so as an entrepreneur and buy his way into the opportunity. His solution was to enter the then-emergent field of computer science. He struck it rich after founding Amazon in 1994, which rapidly expanded from a bookseller into an all-around general goods and streaming empire that made Bezos billions. Bezos resigned as Amazon CEO a few weeks ago to focus on his other ventures, including Blue Origin.

Related: Blue Origin's launch with Jeff Bezos: Everything you need to know

Mark Bezos hugs his brother Jeff. The two will launch to space together on a Blue Origin New Shepard on July 20, 2021. (Image credit: Blue Origin)

Mark Bezos, 53, the younger brother of Bezos and a millionaire in his own right, as he owns shares of Amazon. He is a former ad executive and the cofounder of private equity firm HighPost Capital, according to Business Insider. Mark Bezos is also on the leadership council of the non-profit Robin Hood, which fights poverty. The Bezos brothers are close and Mark recently said on Instagram that he was "awestruck" that Jeff asked him to come aboard the flight. 

Wally Funk, 82, a pioneer female aviator best known for being one of the Mercury 13, women tested by NASA as potential astronauts during the early days of the U.S. space program. Jeff Bezos personally invited Funk to join the crew and it appears she did not pay for the opportunity (which would have cost millions). Funk is set to become the oldest person to fly in space, beating the late Mercury astronaut John Glenn, who was 77 when he flew on his second mission on NASA's space shuttle Discovery in 1998.

Oliver Daemon, 18, will be the youngest person in space when he launches on Blue Origin's New Shepard spacecraft on July 20, 2021. (Image credit: Blue Origin)

Oliver Daemen, 18, a student who plans to study innovation and physics at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands and has been wanting to fly to space since age 4. Daemen moved up a flight to take over the seat won by an anonymous winner of a $28 million auction, who postponed due to a scheduling conflict. Daemen's seat was paid for by his father Joes, who is CEO and founder of Somerset Capital Partners, making him Blue Origin's first paying customer. Daemen will be the youngest person in space after this mission, beating Russian cosmonaut Gherman Titov, who was 25 when he flew on the Soviet Union's Vostok 2 mission in 1961.

Blue Origin has not yet disclosed future seat pricing or its schedule for future flights, but you can sign up to a waiting list for more information when available. Competitor Virgin Galactic offers seats for $250,000 apiece, but has not yet widely opened up its flights for paying passengers; the company is expected to do so in 2022.

Visit Space.com on July 20 for complete coverage Blue Origin's first astronaut launch.


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Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for Space.com who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is the author or co-author of several books on space exploration. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota in Space Studies, and an M.Sc. from the same department. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University in Canada, where she began her space-writing career in 2004. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level, and for government training schools. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @howellspace.