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

Robert S. Hays

Sixty-two several years in the past, NASA’s Mercury Undertaking chosen the first team of American astronauts. Among that team of 7 adult men ended up names these as Alan Shepard and John Glenn. The Mercury Seven, as they came to be known, all went into space. All-around the similar time, a personal program was putting girls pilots by means of some of the very same screening and teaching the men ended up undergoing for NASA. This team of females were recognized as the Mercury 13, but none of them went into space. But, many thanks to Jeff Bezos and the billionaire space race, that is about to modify: 82-yr outdated Wally Funk is finally getting her day in the sun—so to converse.


In a video submit on his Instagram account, Bezos explained to Funk, an primary member of the Mercury 13, that she’ll be accompanying him on the very first flight of the New Shepard capsule on July 20. Bezos questioned her what she’d say following a harmless return to Earth.

“I would say, ‘Honey, that was the greatest factor that at any time took place to me,’ ” Funk mentioned, hugging Bezos.

Place record will be built

Funk will become the oldest man or woman to go into area, surpassing John Glenn who, at 77, made a return to room on the space shuttle Discovery in 1998. The suborbital New Shepard, designed by Bezos’ space company Blue Origin, will get off from Texas for an 11-minute journey. Just after launch, the reusable rocket will land although the detachable crew capsule will parachute to the floor. Also along for this very first journey with Funk and Bezos will be the billionaire’s brother, Mark, and the as-but-mysterious winner of a $28 million auction.

Funk recalled what it was like to sign up for the Mercury 13 in 1961. “They asked me, ‘Do you want to be an astronaut?’ and I mentioned, ‘Yes!’ ”

But while the Mercury 13 analyzed as well, or better, than the adult men in several assessments, NASA did not have curiosity in sending women to area at the time. “I didn’t believe I’d ever be ready to go up.”

Funk is a pioneer in aviation. She was the initial feminine Federal Aviation Company (FAA) inspector and the very first woman air protection investigator for the National Transportation Security Board (NTSB). “I’ve been flying forever. I have 19,600 flying hrs,” Funk mentioned.

The billionaire space race is heating up

Apparently, Bezos will not be the subsequent billionaire going to room. Hours immediately after Funk’s flight announcement, Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson went on Twitter to announce he’s also likely to room. The British billionaire options to be on board a exam flight of his company’s rocket aircraft on July 11. Virgin Galactic designs to begin providing commercial place flights in 2022, when Elon Musk’s SpaceX is starting off non-public flights in September. Blue Origin says information on New Shepard seat gross sales will be obtainable soon. Ironically, Funk paid $200,000 for a Virgin Galactic ticket in 2010. There’s no phrase on no matter whether she’s seemed into Virgin Galactic’s refund plan.

At the finish of the Bezos Instagram article, Funk was informed she’s going to be an astronaut. Immediately after 60 several years of waiting around, she only experienced a 1-phrase reply.


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