The company said 82-year-old Wally Funk will accompany Jeff Bezos into space on a flight from his company Blue Origin on July 20, becoming the oldest person to travel in space.
• Read also: $28 million for a spaceflight with Jeff Bezos
She will be the fourth passenger on the space tourism company’s first manned flight, along with billionaire, her brother Mark Bezos, and the winner of an as-yet-to-be-named auction.
Wally Funk era photos. Bleu Origin via AFP
Dans les années 60, Wally Funk a fait partie d’un program privé appelé “Mercury 13”, un groupe de 13 femmes ayant passé les mmes tests que les astronautes masculins sélectionnés dans le cadre du program Mercury de la NASA pours Améain envoy in the space.
“They told me I got the job done better and faster than any man,” Wally Funk said in a video posted to Jeff Bezos’ Instagram account at the time of the announcement. “I said I wanted to be an astronaut. But no one wanted to take me. I didn’t think I would ever get there.”
Jeff Bezos | France Press agency
“No one has waited this long,” Jeff Bezos wrote in his letter. “Welcome to the crew, Wally.”
Wally Funk became the first female inspector for the US aviation agency, FAA. Pilot, collected 19,600 flying hours.
The New Shepard rocket is scheduled to blast off from Blue Origin on July 20 and reach the Karman Line, which traditionally marks the beginning of space 100 kilometers above Earth.
The oldest person to have traveled into space to date is American astronaut John Glenn, who flew in 1998 at the age of 77 aboard the space shuttle Discovery.
The first woman in space was the Russian Valentina Tereshkova in 1963, and the first American Sally Ride … in 1983.
“Age is not a limiting factor” to going into space, Glenn King, director of the space training program at Nastar, a private company that partners with key players in the sector, told AFP. “It really depends on the health of each person.”
He himself trained an 88-year-old astronaut, including in a centrifuge – an arm about 8 meters long in rotation, reproducing the gravitational force corresponding to that to which the passengers would be exposed. “It worked very well.”
In early June, Jeff Bezos announced that he would himself be a member of Blue Origin’s first space tourism flight. A third ticket was auctioned: the winner, whose identity remains a mystery, paid $28 million to participate.
The Blue Origin rocket will take off on July 20 vertically and the capsule will separate from it at an altitude of about 75 km, continuing its trajectory until its height exceeds 100 km – the Kerman Line, an imaginary line defined in accordance with the International Convention on the beginning of space.
Prestigious passengers will then be able to float in zero gravity and observe the curvature of the Earth, for just a few minutes.
Then the capsule will begin free-falling back to Earth, and its speed will be slowed down by three large parachutes and retrograde rockets before landing in a desert in West Texas. The journey takes a total of 11 minutes.
Wally Funk also bought a ticket years ago to travel to space on a rival ship, the Virgin Galactic.
The competition rages between Blue Origin and this company founded by billionaire Richard Branson, which has also been positioned for short space cruises.
Wally Funk hasn’t given up, even when told that “a woman’s place wasn’t in space,” Branson tweeted in 2019, congratulating himself as a “future astronaut at Virgin Galactic”.
But the Briton was hacked again by Jeff Bezos’ company. Mr. Branson has also announced that he will board his ship for a trip to space, but on a date that has yet to be announced and it seems unlikely that it will be scheduled before July 20.