Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ space firm, has picked 82-year-old female aviator Wally Funk to go into space on the company’s first crewed trip on July 20.
Funk was one of the Mercury 13 women who trained in the 1960s under the same circumstances as men but were never chosen as astronauts. She earned over 19,000 flying hours and became the Federal Aviation Administration’s first female inspector.
“I got ahold of NASA four times. I said I want to become an astronaut, and they wouldn’t take me,” Funk said in an Instagram post from Blue Origin. “I didn’t think that I would ever get to.”
Bezos and his brother, Mark, will share two seats in the New Shepard spacecraft, which will launch from West Texas. A fourth passenger, whose identity has not been revealed by the corporation, spent more than $29 million for the fourth seat.
According to a Blue Origin information page, Funk was once placed in a sensory deprivation tank for 10 hours, 35 minutes, setting a record and scored higher in the test than astronaut John Glenn.
The date of July 20 was chosen in part because it marks the 52nd anniversary of the first lunar landing.