Wally Funk, 82, underwent training as an astronaut in the 1960s. When the flight takes off on July 20, she’ll become the oldest person ever to fly to space.
Bezos invited Funk to join the New Shepard spacecraft crew as an “honored guest,” announcing her addition in a video posted to Instagram. “In 1961, Wally Funk was at the top of her class as part of the ‘Mercury 13’ Woman in Space Program,” Bezos wrote in the caption. “Despite completing their training, the program was cancelled, and none of the thirteen flew.”
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In addition to having logged thousands of flight hours over the course of her career, Funk cemented herself in the history books as the first female air safety investigator for the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) and the first woman to be an inspector for the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), according to the BBC.
In 2010, Funk also purchased a $200,000 USD ticket to board Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceflight, though the trip was only recently approved by the FAA to take paying customers aboard. Branson, alongside three Virgin Galactic employees, is currently trying to beat Bezos’ Blue Origin with a July 11 flight, nine days before New Shepard’s scheduled take off.