New York TimesJuly 2, 2021 17:59:30 IST
Mary Wallace Funk, an 82-year-old pilot who was prevented from becoming an astronaut in the 1960s because of her gender, will join Jeff Bezos on her rocket ship company’s first spaceflight, the company announced Thursday.
On July 20, he joins Bezos; his brother, Mark Bezos; and the auction winner as the first people to fly a Blue Origin rocket and capsule, the company said in a statement. The mission is a short suborbital flight whose rocket rises above the 62-mile threshold and is usually held at the beginning of space before returning to Earth.
Passengers on a rocket called New Shepard experience zero weight for four minutes and then touch down in the desert in West Texas, at the rocket launch site.
Past Wally, Funk was one of 13 American women who went through a rigorous astronaut training program in the 1960s to find out if women fit into space. Despite testing as well as the men at the time, no one ever became an astronaut: The program was privately funded and not recognized by NASA. More importantly, NASA only accepted trained fighter pilots – a job open only to men – as candidates to become astronauts, according to History.com. It was not until 1983, five years after the fighter pilot’s claim was lifted, that the United States sent the first woman, Sally Ride, into space.
“They told me I had done better and done the job faster than any guy,” Funk said in a video posted to Bezos ’Instagram account. But every four times he told NASA he wanted to become an astronaut, he was denied.
“They said, ‘Well, you’re a girl, you can’t do that,'” he recalled in the video. “I said, ‘Guess what? No matter what you are, you can still do it if you want to do it.’ no one has ever done. “
Welcome aboard, Wally. At this point, Jeff Bezos asked Wally Funk to join the first human flight on July 20 as our honored guest. https://t.co/ESBJ7bxErK
– Blue origin (@blueorigin) July 1, 2021
Through a spokesman, Blue Origin declined to conduct an interview with Funk on Thursday.
Funk was the first inspector of the Federal Aviation Administration and the first aviation safety investigator on the National Transportation Safety Board. And with the New Shepard flight later this month, he explodes on a new path that becomes the oldest person flying into space.
“No one has waited any longer,” Bezos wrote in the Instagram caption. “It’s time. Welcome to the crew, Wally. We’re glad you’re flying with us on July 20 as our respected guest.”
Isabella Grullón Paz No. 2021 The New York Times Company