Veteran pilot Wally Funk, 82, becomes oldest woman to go to space

WION Web Team
Texas, United StatesUpdated: Jul 21, 2021, 07:33 PM IST
main img

Story highlights

Along with Wally Funk, an 18-year-old Dutchman Oliver Daemen, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark Bezos travelled to Karman Line in Blue Origin's New Shepard

Aviator Wally Funk, 82, accompanied Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on the first crewed spaceflight of Blue Origin on July 21 and became the oldest woman to fly to space.Funk was the first woman trained to fly to space during 1960-1961 in the Mercury 13 program. On July 20, she became the oldest person ever to go to space.

"I can hardly wait," Funk said in a video posted on Bezos Instagram account. "I would say, "Honey, that was the best thing that ever happened to me!," Funk said in the video as she hugged Bezos. 

"They told me that I had done better and completed the work faster than any of the guys," Funk says, adding, "So I got ahold 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." 

Funk said people told her "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."

While many women from her age gave up on the dream of ever travelling to the space, Wally fulfilled her life-long dream and described it as the best day of her life. "I'm going. That is my quest. ... I love flying, that's my job, that's what I love. And I'm not a quitter," she said before the launch.

An unnamed winner of the online auction was scheduled to accompany Bezos brothers and Funk, but a last-minute 'scheduling issue' took the opportunity away from him and he said he will be encashing his ticket on the next flight. In place of him, 18-year-old Oliver Daemen took the opportunity and became the youngest person to fly to space.

New Shephard has taken several uncrewed test runs earlier. However, this was it's first all-crew flight.

Blue Origin's latest voyage into space comes as it faces stiff competition from Elon Musk's SpaceX and Virgin Galactic's founder British billionaire Richard Branson.

(With inputs from Agencies)