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Motley Fool 01 July, 2021 - 05:00am 14 views

When is Bezos going into space?

The news came just hours after Bezos' Blue Origin said Bezos would be accompanied into space on July 20 by a female aerospace pioneer who's waited 60 years to rocket away. Bezos chose July 20 as his West Texas launch date — the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Associated PressRichard Branson announces trip to space, ahead of Jeff Bezos

At 82, Ms. Funk will become the oldest person ever to go to space. In the 1960s, she was part of a test program to determine whether women were fit for space.

Mary Wallace Funk, an 82-year-old pilot who was prevented from becoming an astronaut in the 1960s because of her sex, will join Jeff Bezos on his rocket ship company’s first human flight into space, the company announced on Thursday.

On July 20, she will join Mr. Bezos; his brother, Mark Bezos; and the winner of an auction as the first people to fly in a Blue Origin rocket and capsule, the company said in a statement. The mission will be a short suborbital flight, with the rocket rising above the 62-mile threshold generally regarded as the beginning of space, before returning to Earth.

Passengers aboard the rocket, called New Shepard, will experience zero gravity for four minutes and then touch back down in the desert in West Texas, the site of the rocket’s launch.

“They told me that I had done better and completed the work faster than any of the guys,” Ms. Funk said in a video posted to Mr. Bezos’ Instagram account. But each of the four times she told NASA she wanted to become an astronaut, she was denied.

“They said, ‘Well, you’re a girl, you can’t do that,’” she recalled in the video. “I said: ‘Guess what? Doesn’t matter what you are, you can still do it if you want to do it.’ And I like to do things that nobody’s ever done.”

Through a spokeswoman, Blue Origin declined to arrange an interview with Ms. Funk on Thursday.

Ms. Funk was the first female Federal Aviation Administration inspector and first female National Transportation Safety Board air safety investigator. And with the New Shepard flight later this month, she will blaze yet another trail, becoming the oldest person to fly into space.

“No one has waited longer,” Mr. Bezos wrote in an Instagram caption. “It’s time. Welcome to the crew, Wally. We’re excited to have you fly with us on July 20th as our honored guest.”

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Wally Funk, 82, to join Jeff Bezos in Blue Origin spaceflight 02 July, 2021 - 09:17pm

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Wally Funk is a member of the so-called Mercury 13, a group of pioneering women who were testing to become astronauts in the 1960s before their training program was canceled. (Their story was the subject of a Netflix documentary in 2018.)

"No one has waited longer," Bezos wrote in an Instagram post announcing that Funk will join him on July 20 as an "honored guest."

In a video he shared, Funk said that she's been "flying forever," and has 19,600 flying hours.

"I have taught over 3,000 people to fly — private, commercial, instrument, flight engineer, airline transport, gliding — everything the FAA has, I've got the license for," she said. "And I can outrun you."

She also talked about the famously canceled training program, which had been created by a NASA physician but wasn't officially run by NASA, that she participated in decades ago.

"They told me that I had done better and completed the work faster than any of the guys," Funk said in the video. "So I got a hold of NASA four times. I said, 'I want to become an astronaut.' But nobody would take me. I didn't think that I would ever get to go up."

While her dream of being an astronaut was dashed, Funk still went on to become a seasoned aviator and the first female Federal Aviation Administration inspector.

"Nothing has ever gotten in my way," she said. "They said, 'Wally you're a girl, you can't do that!' I said, 'Guess what? Doesn't matter what you are, you can still do it if you want to do it.' And I like to do things that no one has ever done."

That's exactly what she'll do when she becomes the oldest person to travel into space on July 20. (The late astronaut Sen. John Glenn, who was 77 during his final spaceflight, currently holds that honor, according to NASA.)

Funk will join Bezos, his brother and an auction winner who paid $28 million for a seat on the flight, which will launch from Texas.

Blue Origin is the Amazon founder's rocket company, and the flight aboard its New Shepard rocket will be its first human flight.

Yet Funk has no hesitations: "I'll love every second of it," she said. "I can hardly wait."

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