The lifelong dream of Wally Funk (82), The first American flight instructor in history was to become an astronaut. He came very close to achieving it in 1961, but they robbed him of his sleep. Sixty years later, this July 20, will finally go to space thanks to Jeff Bezos and his company Blue Origin.
At the height of his career, Funk was one of 13 female aviators who passed all the necessary exams to enter the astronaut corps. from NASA and that went down in history by Mercury 13.
That historic program, which subjected women to the same rigorous demands as Mercury 7, NASA’s original team of astronauts made up exclusively of men, it was cancelled.
“It’s time. Welcome to the crew, Wally. We are excited to have you fly with us on July 20 as our guest of honor. #GradatimFerociter ”announced Bezos on his Instagram account.
The announcement was made by Jeff Bezos through a video on his Instagram account.
The inclusion of Funk as “guest of honor” is the latest symbolic move to inaugurate the Blue Origin’s space tourism program taking off on July 20, on the anniversary of the first US Moon landing.
The four passengers
In this way, Funk becomes the last crew member of the debut flight of the New Shepard spacecraft, which will transport tourists to low Earth orbit. In addition to Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark, there is an anonymous passenger who paid $ 28 million for his seat at an auction.
Funk has been flying professionally since 1957 and has accumulated more than 19,600 flight hours. At the age of 20 he was already a civil flight structure, and in 1961 She volunteered for NASA’s “Women in Space” program.
Funk has been flying professionally since 1957 and has accumulated more than 19,600 flight hours. AFP photo
“I’ve been flying forever and I have 19,600 flight hours,” Funk said in the video, and He also cited his experience teaching more than 3,000 people to fly.
In conversation with Bezos, Funk recalls the disappointment he felt when NASA maintained its relentless stance of excluding women from the astronaut corps.
When NASA opened its applications to women in 1976, Funk requested permission to enter three times but was always rejected without any explanation.
Wally Funk, he already had his flight ticket to travel on Virgin Galactic. Bezos stepped forward. Reuters photo
“They told me that I had done better and that he had completed the job faster than any of the guys, “Funk said.
Blue Origin noted that the chosen one must be able to withstand three times the force of gravity for two minutes on the ascent and five and a half times the force of gravity for a few seconds on the descent.
“I will love every second,” Funk said of his flight in a video posted by Blue Origin. “I can hardly wait.”
As a child, Funk loved building model airplanes and ships. She became an “expert marksman” at age 14 and was skiing competitively for the United States in slalom and downhill races.
“I like to do things that no one has done,” Funk says with a smile at Bezos’s approving look.
The prestigious crew will be able to float in weightlessness for a few minutes and observe the curvature of the Earth. The capsule will then begin a free fall to return to Earth, and will be slowed by three large parachutes and rockets before landing in a desert in West Texas.