KENT, Washington: Sixty years after passing NASA’s astronaut training program for women, Wally Funk will be blasting off with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on the first manned Blue Origins space flight on July 20.
“I didn’t think I’d ever get to go up,” Funk said in a video interview posted on the company’s website.
The 82-year old Funk will be the oldest person ever to travel into space, Blue Origin said on Thursday.
Funk, a 21-year-old pilot in 1960, was the youngest of 13 women who passed the same testing as the male Mercury Seven astronauts that sent Americans into space beginning in 1961. However, they were later denied the chance to fly into space because they were women.
Funk was the first female flight instructor at a U.S. military base and the first woman to become an air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.
She will be launched into space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket as it travels more than 62 miles above Earth into suborbital space.
Also aboard the flight will be Bezos, his brother, Mark, and the high bidder in an auction for a seat.
Prior to returning to Earth, the passengers will experience a few minutes of weightlessness and be able to view the Earth’s curvature through viewing windows.