Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, inspects New Shepard’s West Texas launch facility before the rocket’s maiden voyage. Image courtesy of Blue Origin.
Like many children, Jeff Bezos started dreaming of going to space when he was five years old. But unlike most children, Bezos -- the world’s richest person -- was able to make that dream a reality.
Bezos founded aerospace company Blue Origin in 2000, and the company has since grown to over 3,500 employees in facilities across the United States. The Org has delved into the crew that went to space with the billionaire for a total of 11 minutes, and those behind the scenes that made it a reality.
The Billionaire - Jeff Bezos
Most well-known as the founder of Amazon and with a net worth of over $200B (making him one of the wealthiest people ever to have existed), Bezos says he was inspired to go to space after watching the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.
This dream would not have been possible if not for his wealth, which he built on the back of his employees and customers. From Amazon to Whole Foods to The Washington Post, Bezos has grown his wealth by dabbling into every aspect of our day-to-day lives.
Now that he is back on earth, the billionaire hopes that Blue Origin will enable a future where other wealthy people can benefit from traveling to and from space.
The Billionaire's Brother - Mark Bezos
Younger brother and best friend of Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, was another crew member onboard the Blue Origin flight to space.
A graduate of Texas Christian University, Mark Bezos has had an admirable career. According to his LinkedIn, he has reportedly worked at marketing giant Saatchi & Saatchi and has been CEO of his own marketing company Bezos Nathanson Marketing Group. In addition, he currently sits as the co-founder of HighPost Capital and is a volunteer firefighter for Scarsdale Fire Department.
The Oldest Person to Go Into Space - Wally Funk
82-year-old Wally Funk had been one of the thirteen women who went through a series of tests as part of the "Women in Space Program" in 1961. Unfortunately, despite out performing all her male counterparts, none of the women were selected to go to space.
Despite having applied to NASA twice -- once in 1962 and again in 1966 -- Funk was not selected for the missions as she did not have an engineering degree, though the same rules did not seem to apply to astronaut John Glenn.
But Funk never gave up, and finally, as of yesterday, she was able to achieve the dream that she had fought for for so long. She will now be the oldest person to have ever traveled into space.
The Youngest Person to Go Into Space - Oliver Daemen
Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen became the youngest astronaut yesterday. He took the spot of the anonymous winner of the $28 million public auction for a seat, but who did not join Blue Origin's first human flight due to a reported scheduling conflict.
Daemen's father, Joe Daemen, is the millionaire CEO and founder of a real estate private equity firm Somerset Capitol Partners. The exact amount Joe Daemen paid for his son to fly into space is unknown.
The 18-year-old has a private pilot license and will be studying Physics and Innovation Management at the University of Utrecht this Fall.
Behind the Scenes
The CEO - Bob Smith
Aerospace engineer and business executive Bob Smith is the CEO of Blue Origin. The impressive academic has a Bachelor's Degree in Science from Texas A&M University, an M.S. in Applied Engineering from Brown, a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from UT Austin and a Master's in Business from MIT.
A veteran in the aerospace field, Smith has served as a Director of NASA Programs during his time at the Aerospace Corporation. In addition, he was an Executive Director at United Space Alliance for almost five years and later served in multiple leadership positions at Honeywell Aerospace. He is also a recipient of the NASA Silver Snoopy Award, which honors NASA employees and contractors for outstanding achievements related to human flight safety or mission success.
The CISO - Will Longman
Overseeing all aspects of information security and risk management is CISO Will Longman. Longman is a Digital Forensics graduate from Edmonds College. He also holds a Bachelor of Science from National University, according to his LinkedIn.
Before joining Blue Origin, Longman was the V.P. of Information Technology and Security at security consultancy IOActive, where he served for over two years. He has also been the Director of I.T. Security and Risk Management for Alaska Airlines. Longman was a Security Officer for the U.S. Navy in his past life, where he stayed for over two decades.
The COO - Terry Benedict
Another executive at Blue Origin who once served in the U.S. Navy is Terry Benedict. Benedict is the COO at Bezos's aerospace company. After serving for more than 28 years in the U.S. Navy, Benedict left to become a Director for Strategic Systems Programs, where he provided operational support to the Navy.
He joined Blue Origin in 2018 and currently sits on the boards of defense and space companies: Draper, Systems Planning and Analysis (SPA), and The National Academy of Science.
The General Counsel - Paul Weber
Helping overcome Blue Origin's legal hurdles is General Counsel Paul Weber. Formerly the Chief Counsel in Defense Aerospace for Rolls-Royce, where he served for over two decades, Weber has many years of experience working in the motor industry.
The Georgetown University graduate was once the Legislative Director to Congressman Frank McCloskey, and previously served as a Contracts Manager for Allison Engine Company.
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