On July 20, Wally Funk will become the oldest person to travel space. This 82-year-old lady will accompany Jeff Bezos aboard a flight from his company Blue Origin, the company said Thursday. She will be the fourth passenger on this first manned flight by the space tourism company, alongside billionaire, her brother Mark Bezos, and the auction winner whose name has not yet been revealed.
In the 1960s, Wally Funk was part of a private program called “Mercury 13”, a group of 13 women who passed the same tests as male astronauts selected as part of NASA’s Mercury program to send the first Americans into space.
“They told me I got the job done better and faster than any of the men,” Wally Funk said in a video posted on Jeff Bezos’ Instagram account at the time of the announcement. “I said I wanted to be an astronaut. But nobody wanted to take me. I never thought I would go up there.”
“No one has waited longer,” wrote Jeff Bezos in his post. “Welcome to the crew, Wally. Wally Funk became the first female inspector at the US aviation agency, the FAA Pilot, she has accumulated 19,600 flight hours.
The rocket of Blue Origin, New Shepard, should take off on July 20 and reach the Karman Line, which, according to an international convention, marks the beginning of space, 100 km above the Earth. The prestigious passengers will then be able to float in zero gravity for a few minutes and observe the curvature of the Earth.
The capsule will then begin a free fall to return to Earth and will be slowed down by three large retro parachutes and rockets before landing in a desert in west Texas.