Wally Funk, 82, who passed NASA’s astronaut training program in 1960s, will be joining Amazon’s billionaire founder Jeff Bezos to fly to space on the first human flight of the New Shepard, the rocket ship developed by his space company, Blue Origin.
The flight is scheduled for July 20, just 15 days after he is set to step down as CEO of Amazon. Bezos will also be accompanied by his younger brother Mark Bezos on this journey.
Wally Funk will fly to space as an honored guest. She will join Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, and the auction winner on the flight.
Wally’s journey to space began in the 1960s when she was the youngest graduate of the Woman in Space Program, a privately-funded project which tested female pilots for astronaut fitness. Later known as the “Mercury 13” – thirteen American women successfully underwent the same physiological and psychological screening tests as the astronauts selected by NASA for Project Mercury, but they never flew to space. Wally was the youngest graduate of this program.
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She was the first female FAA inspector and first female NTSB air safety investigator. The 82-year-old pilot will now be part of the first crew on New Shepard, and the oldest person ever to fly to space, said a press release issued by Blue Origin.
Earlier this month, Blue Origin concluded the online auction for the very first seat on New Shepard with a winning bid of $28 million. Nearly 7,600 people registered to bid from 159 countries.