Wally Funk, at long last, has a date with space. Funk, 82, is a 30,000-hour pilot and former FAA and NTSB inspector, as well as American Goodwill ambassador. She was offered a seat by Amazon and Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos aboard his company’s rocket ship, set to launch from Funk’s home state of New Mexico on July 20. It took her approximately half a second to accept.
Funk’s dreams of space began long ago.
In 1961, Funk, who was a civilian flight instructor at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, applied to participate in a private program that had been established to determine if women had the right stuff to be astronauts. Over the next couple of years, the program put 19 accomplished female aviators through the same rigorous physical and psychological screenings that male astronauts went through with NASA. Thirteen of them passed the checks, essentially confirming their fitness and aptitude to be astronauts. The youngest of the group was Funk.
The hopes of all 13 were dashed when the program was cancelled and NASA decided to keep space an all-male affair. The Soviets, America’s rivals in space at the time, had given women the opportunity to be astronauts from the beginning of its space program.
The chance never arose, and Funk’s aspirations to go to space, along with those of her 12 compatriots in the program, were relegated to the stuff of dreams.
Until Bezos made the offer to Funk, who immediately accepted.
Congratulations on the opportunity, Wally! We’ll be following the next steps closely, along with the rest of the world, of course!
View this post on Instagram