American aviator Wally Funk will be one of New Shepard’s crew on Blue Origin’s first manned spaceflight, scheduled for July 20th. The announcement was made this Thursday (1) by the company’s CEO, businessman Jeff Bezos, who will also participate in the mission.
“Welcome to the crew, Wally. We are thrilled to have you flying with us on July 20th as our guest of honor,” wrote the Amazon founder on his Instagram profile. In addition to the two, the trip will feature Mark Bezos, the billionaire’s brother, and the winner of an auction that paid $28 million for the seat.
The launch of Blue Origin will take place on the 52nd anniversary of the moon landing, carried out by the Apollo mission, in 1969. Taking off from Texas (United States), the spacecraft will take the four passengers to the Kárman Line, which marks the limit between the Earth and space, about 100 km above sea level.
For a few minutes, space tourists will float on the edge of space, enjoying a privileged view of the planet’s curvature. After the experience in the gravity-free environment, New Shepard returns to the surface, with the aid of a parachute, landing near the launch region.
Now 82 years old, Mary Wallace “Wally” Funk is one of the pioneering women of the aerospace industry. In the 1960s, she joined the Women in Space Program, which trained 13 astronaut candidates.
Known as “Mercury 13”, the project prepared a group of women to participate in NASA space missions. However, Funk had never had the chance to travel to space, even applying on several occasions, and the wish will be fulfilled now, after Bezos’ invitation to participate in this release.
Wally Funk has become the first female inspector for the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and will also be on the mission for Virgin Galactic, another company in the space tourism business.