When Amazon founder Jeff Bezos offered her a seat on the first crewed flight of his space tourism enterprise Blue Origin, it was an invitation aviator Wally Funk had waited six decades to receive.
Funk, age 82, is one of a dozen women who have come to be known as the Mercury 13 in pointed contrast to NASA's original astronauts, the Mercury 7. Funk and the others were skilled pilots who, like their male counterparts, dreamed of flying even higher, to space. But they were never included in NASA's vision for spaceflight and never became astronauts — until now.
"Wally Funk has really never given up on her dream of spaceflight," Margaret Weitekamp, curator of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum's space history department who wrote a book about the women who lobbied to be included in NASA's astronaut program, told Space.com. "There's a nice bit of poetic justice in including her on this flight."
Funk and Bezos will make up half the crew of the first crewed flight of Blue Origin's reusable suborbital space tourism vehicle, dubbed New Shepard, when it launches from the west Texas desert on Tuesday morning (July 20). She'll become the oldest person to fly in space when she launches.
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