Blue Origin‘s New Shepard flew its first astronaut crew to space, including Amazon founder (and Blue Origin owner) Jeff Bezos. He was aboard the suborbital rocket together with Oliver Daemen, the first paying customer to fly onboard, and Wally Funk. At 18-years-old and 82-years-young, Oliver Daemen and Wally Funk represent the youngest and oldest astronauts to travel to space.
The very fact that it is now possible for civilians to see the Earth from Space is due to the dramatic reduction in the cost of launching vehicles to near orbit and even to orbit. 3D printing—through both part weight optimization and rapid iteration of unique components—has contributed in no small part to making it possible and will continue to have an ever greater impact on democratizing space access. Blue Origin, in particular, is a client of both Stratasys and Raise 3D and has several polymer extrusion systems installed in its facility. The company also uses metal PBF technology for parts development and—likley—some production.
A new generation of largely 3D printed rockets, rocket engines and landers are on the way, driven by initiatives led by billionaires such as Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, and another less known entrepreneur such as Max Haot of Launcher and Tim Ellis of Relativity, who, like many of us, have dreamt of reaching space.
The winner of Blue Origin’s auction, who has asked to remain anonymous at this time, has chosen to fly on a future New Shepard mission due to scheduling conflicts. Club for the Future announced this week the auction gift has enabled Club to donate $1 million to 19 non-profit organizations ($19 million in total), all of which are working to support the future of living and working in space.
“We thank the auction winner for their generous support of Club for the Future and are honored 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.”
Flying on New Shepard fulfilled a lifelong dream for Oliver, who has been fascinated by space, the Moon, and rockets since he was four. Oliver graduated from high school in 2020 and took a gap year before continuing his studies to obtain his private pilot’s license. This September, Oliver will attend the University of Utrecht to study physics and innovation management.
On Sunday, July 18, Blue Origin hosted a pre-launch mission briefing live from Launch Site One in West Texas. The briefing provided final details about the Tuesday, July 20, First Human Flight mission, including updates on vehicle readiness, flight and safety preparedness, and astronaut training.