American billionaire, Jeff Bezos, has completed a near-space mission that lasted 11 minutes. The Amazon CEO was piloted by 82-year-old Wally Funk.
After decades of waiting, Wally Funk finally accomplished her dream of flying to space, becoming the oldest person to do so.
The 82-year-old pilot volunteered as a member of the “Mercury 13” program, otherwise known as the “Women in Space Program,” in February 1961, which was a privately-funded effort intended to begin training women to fly in NASA’s earliest space programs.
“I got ahold of NASA four times, and said, ‘I want to become an astronaut,’ but nobody would take me,” Funk said. “I didn’t think I would ever get to go up. Nothing has ever gotten in my way. They say, ‘Wally, you’re a girl, you can’t do that.’ I said, ‘Guess what, doesn’t matter what you are, you can still do it if you want to do it,’ and I like to do things that nobody’s ever done before.”
Funk has extensive experience piloting aircraft, logging over 19,600 flying hours and teaching more than 3,000 people how to fly private and commercial aircraft.
Also making history in the Blue Origin spaceflight was 18-year-old recent high school graduate Oliver Daemen, who became the youngest person to travel to space.
Daemen was Blue Origin’s first paying customer, and his father, an investor, purchased his ticket.
Daemen replaced a mystery bidder who agreed to pay $28 million for a ticket, but who had to reschedule for a later mission because of “scheduling conflicts.”