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80-year-old American to fly with Jeff Bezos into space

Guest of honor, she will be the fourth passenger aboard the New Shepard rocket, the company announced Thursday alongside Amazon founder, brother Mark Bezos, and the winner of an auction whose name does not has yet to be revealed.

Finally! exclaims Wally Funk when told that she will then become an astronaut, in a video posted on Jeff Bezos’ Instagram account, where we see her hugging him in an explosion of joy. I will savor every second. I can not wait, she adds.

Wally Funk had become the first female inspector for the US aviation agency, the FAA. Pilot, she has accumulated 19,600 flight hours.

The New Shepard spaceship takes off from its launch pad.

The New Shepard spaceship takes off from its launch pad during a test flight.

Photo : Blue Origin

In the 1960s, she was part of a private program called Mercury 13, a group of 13 women who passed the same tests as the male astronauts selected as part of NASA’s Mercury program to send the first Americans into space.

She was the youngest to successfully complete the program at the time.

They told me I got the job done better and faster than any of the men, Wally Funk says in the video posted online. So I contacted NASA four times.

I said I wanted to be an astronaut. But no one wanted to take me. I didn’t think I would ever go up there.

A quote from:Wally Funk, future passenger of the New Shepard rocket

Nobody waited that long, wrote Jeff Bezos in his post.

Even though they passed their training, the program was canceled, and none of the 13 [participantes] did not steal in the space. It’s time, he added.

Welcome to the crew, Wally.

The oldest person to have traveled in space so far is American astronaut John Glenn, who flew in 1998 at the age of 77, aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

The first woman in space was the Russian Valentina Tereshkova in 1963, the first American Sally Ride … in 1983.

Valentina Tereshkov in space.

Russian Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to perform a space flight in 1963.

Photo : Radio-Canada / Tamara Alteresco

Age is not a limiting factor to go into space, explained to theAFP Glenn King, director of the space training program at Nastar Center, a private company partnering with major players in the sector. It really depends on the state of health of each person.

He himself trained an 88-year-old astronaut candidate, including in a centrifuge – an arm nearly eight meters long in rotation, reproducing the g-force corresponding to that to which passengers will be exposed.

The founder of Blue Origin takes a stand in a recreation of his space module during a press meeting in Colorado Springs on April 26, 2021.

The founder of Blue Origin takes a stand in a recreation of his spaceship during a press meeting in Colorado Springs on April 26, 2021.

Photo : Reuters / Isaiah Downing

In early June, Jeff Bezos announced that he himself would be a member of Blue Origin’s first space tourism trip. A third ticket has been auctioned: the winner, whose identity remains a mystery, paid $ 28 million to participate.

A trip of ten minutes

Blue Origin’s rocket will take off on July 20 vertically and the capsule will separate from it at about 75 km in height, continuing its trajectory until exceeding 100 km in altitude – the Karman line, an imaginary line that marks according to the international convention the beginning of space.

The prestigious passengers will then be able to float in zero gravity and observe the curvature of the Earth, for a few minutes only.

Then the capsule will begin a free fall to return to Earth, and will be slowed down by three large parachutes and retro rockets before landing in a desert in West Texas. The trip will take a total of 11 minutes.

Wally Funk also bought a ticket years ago to fly into space aboard a competing ship, the Virgin Galactic.

Competition is raging between Blue Origin and this company founded by billionaire Richard Branson, also positioned in the niche of short tourist flights in space.

Wally Funk n’a not abandoned, even when he was told that a woman’s place was not in space, wrote on Twitter Mr. Branson in 2019, congratulating himself on being a future Virgin Galactic astronaut.

But the Briton was once again hacked to the post by the company of Jeff Bezos. Mr Branson had also announced that he would board his ship for a trip to space, but on a date that has yet to be announced and which it seems highly unlikely will be scheduled before July 20. .

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