Wally Funk, 82, will be the New Shepard capsule’s “guest of honour”, which will take off from a desert in West Texas.
Funk was among women who took astronaut training in the 1960s but who did not go to space and did not make the NASA team because of their gender.
At the time, all NASA astronauts were military test pilots and men.
Funk, a pilot and former flight instructor, was the first female inspector for the US Federal Aviation Administration and the first female air safety investigator for the US National Transportation Safety Council.
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Undated image shows space travel pioneer Wally Funk, who will travel into space with Jeff Bezos on a Blue Origin flight – Photo: Blue Origin via AFP
The capsule carrying the passengers will separate from the thruster and pass through the Karman Line, about 100 kilometers high, which marks the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space.
The journey will last 10 minutes – 4 of them in space, where they will be able to feel the lack of gravity and observe the curvature of the Earth.
The flight will include the businessman, his brother Mark Bezos, Wally Funk and a man who has yet to reveal his identity – the last seat was guaranteed at the auction and was valued at US$28 million.
At 82, Funk will become the oldest person to go to space. The record was held by John Glenn, who set a record at the age of 77 when he flew the space shuttle Discovery in 1998.
“It’s time,” Bezos said on Instagram. “Welcome to the crew, Wally. We’re with you as our guest of honor on July 20th.”
Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, inside the New Shepard capsule — Photo: Isaiah J. Downing/Reuters
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The automated flight will be the company’s 16th. But it will be the first with humans on board.
The July 20 launch by Blue Origin’s New Shepard Systems in West Texas will be a pivotal moment as US companies usher in a new era of private commercial space travel.
The reusable rocket system is named after Alan Shepard, the first American to reach space 60 years ago.
Space travel pioneer Wally Funk will take part in Blue Origin’s flight from Bezos. Image is from file. – Photo: Mark Ralston / AFP
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