Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Says Teen to Replace Auction Winner on Space Flight

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Jeff Bezos’ space company said that the person who paid roughly $30 million for a seat aboard its rocket next week won’t be on the trip, and an 18-year-old would join the launch instead.

Blue Origin LLC, the space enterprise founded by the billionaire Amazon.com Inc. founder, cited scheduling conflicts in explaining why the auction winner decided not to join the flight scheduled for July 20. The company didn’t disclose the auction winner’s name in a statement on Thursday.

Taking the fourth seat in the passenger capsule on Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle will be Oliver Daemen, according to the company. Mr. Daemen, 18, graduated from high school last year and plans to study physics and innovation management at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands starting in September, Blue Origin said

Mr. Daemen “was a participant in the auction and had secured a seat on the second flight. We moved him up when this seat on the first flight became available,” a Blue Origin spokeswoman said. She declined to specify how much Mr. Daemen paid for the ticket.

“Oliver represents a new generation of people who will help us build a road to space,” Blue Origin Chief Executive Bob Smith said in a statement.

Last month, the company said close to 7,600 people from 159 countries had registered to bid for a seat on the launch, with the winner paying close to $30 million to fly to one boundary of space with Mr. Bezos and his brother Mark.

Blue Origin said Thursday the person who won the auction had chosen to fly on a future trip to space on the New Shepard.

Wally Funk, a longtime pilot who trained to be an astronaut under a space program for women in the 1960s, is also joining the launch. Earlier this week, the Federal Aviation Administration signed off on Blue Origin’s plans to proceed with the launch from the company’s facility near Van Horn, Texas.

Each person slated to be on the launch meets the company’s requirements for doing so, Blue Origin’s spokeswoman said.

The launch of the New Shepard vessel will be Blue Origin’s first to space with humans on board. The company said Monday it is targeting a launch of the vehicle, which includes a rocket and crew capsule with room for six people, on July 20 at 9 a.m. ET. Blue Origin’s flight is expected to last about 11 minutes, with the capsule carrying the four passengers reaching a peak altitude of about 66 miles.

Richard Branson successfully traveled to the edge of space on Sunday, and Jeff Bezos isn’t far behind. But the two billionaire founders’ spacecrafts, flight logistics and altitudes have some differences. Photo illustration: Laura Kammermann

Last Sunday, a Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. spacecraft with six people on board, including billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, reached a boundary of space and safely returned to Earth. The Virgin Galactic flight was meant to help spur a nascent space-tourism industry, with Mr. Branson providing feedback on the customer experience on the company’s spacecraft.

Three other Virgin Galactic executives joined the company’s trip to space, in addition to Mr. Branson and two pilots who guided the spaceship.

Write to Micah Maidenberg at micah.maidenberg@wsj.com

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