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Meet Wally Funk, the 82-Year-Old Aviator Joining Jeff Bezos in Space

Sixty-two decades in the past, NASA’s Mercury Venture chosen the initially group of American astronauts. Between that group of seven males were being names these kinds of as Alan Shepard and John Glenn. The Mercury Seven, as they arrived to be known, all went into house. Around the exact time, a personal application was placing women of all ages pilots by some of the exact tests and teaching the males were being undergoing for NASA. This group of women of all ages were being known as the Mercury 13, but none of them went into house. But, many thanks to Jeff Bezos and the billionaire house race, which is about to change: eighty two-calendar year aged Wally Funk is finally getting her day in the sun—so to speak.


In a online video write-up on his Instagram account, Bezos advised Funk, an unique member of the Mercury 13, that she’ll be accompanying him on the initially flight of the New Shepard capsule on July 20. Bezos questioned her what she’d say just after a risk-free return to Earth.

“I would say, ‘Honey, that was the finest point that ever took place to me,’ ” Funk stated, hugging Bezos.

Space background will be produced

Funk will become the oldest person to go into house, surpassing John Glenn who, at 77, produced a return to house on the house shuttle Discovery in 1998. The suborbital New Shepard, developed by Bezos’ house corporation Blue Origin, will choose off from Texas for an eleven-minute journey. Following launch, the reusable rocket will land though the detachable crew capsule will parachute to the ground. Also alongside for this initially journey with Funk and Bezos will be the billionaire’s brother, Mark, and the as-still-not known winner of a $28 million auction.

Funk recalled what it was like to join the Mercury 13 in 1961. “They questioned me, ‘Do you want to be an astronaut?’ and I stated, ‘Yes!’ ”

But though the Mercury 13 examined as properly, or much better, than the males in a lot of assessments, NASA didn’t have interest in sending women of all ages to house at the time. “I didn’t assume I’d ever be capable to go up.”

Funk is a pioneer in aviation. She was the initially feminine Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) inspector and the initially feminine air basic safety investigator for the National Transportation Security Board (NTSB). “I’ve been flying forever. I have 19,600 flying hrs,” Funk stated.

The billionaire house race is heating up

Curiously, Bezos will not be the up coming billionaire likely to house. Hours just after Funk’s flight announcement, Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson went on Twitter to announce he’s also likely to house. The British billionaire ideas to be on board a check flight of his company’s rocket aircraft on July eleven. Virgin Galactic ideas to start providing industrial house flights in 2022, though Elon Musk’s SpaceX is starting up personal flights in September. Blue Origin suggests details on New Shepard seat gross sales will be out there soon. Ironically, Funk paid $two hundred,000 for a Virgin Galactic ticket in 2010. There’s no phrase on irrespective of whether she’s appeared into Virgin Galactic’s refund plan.

At the close of the Bezos Instagram write-up, Funk was advised she’s likely to be an astronaut. Following sixty decades of waiting, she only had a a single-phrase reply.


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