Lead Female Pilot to Join Jeff Bezos on Spaceflight


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

On July 20, Mr. Bezos; 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. Mission will be one short suborbital flight, with the rocket hovering above the 62-mile threshold often considered the beginning of space, before returning to Earth.

Passengers aboard the New Shepard rocket will experience zero gravity for four minutes and then descend back into the desert in West Texas, where the rocket was launched.

Ms. Funk, who went through Wally, was one of 13 American women who went through a rigorous astronaut training program in the 1960s to determine if women were fit for space. Despite testing as well as men at the time, none of them became astronauts: The program privately funded and not recognized by NASA. More importantly, NASA was only accepting trained fighter pilots (a male-only job) as candidates to become astronauts at the time. Date.com. It wasn’t until 1983, five years after the fighter pilot requirement was lifted, that the United States sent its first woman, Sally Ride, into space.

“They told me I did better than others and completed the job faster,” said Ms. Funk. video sent to Mr. Bezos’ Instagram account. But on each of the four times he told NASA he wanted to be an astronaut, he was rejected.

“They said, ‘Well, you’re a girl, you can’t do that,'” she said in the video. “I said: ‘Guess what? It doesn’t matter what you are, you can still do it if you want.’ And I like to do things that no one else is doing.”

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

Ms. Funk was the first female Federal Aviation Administration inspector and the first female National Transportation Safety Board air safety inspector. And later this month, he will make another mark with his New Shepard flight as the oldest person to ever fly into space.

“No one waited any longer,” Bezos wrote on Instagram. “The time has come. Welcome to the crew, Wally. We are excited to have you fly with us as our guest of honor on July 20.”

Kenneth Chang contributing reporting.


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