Blue Origin
Getting Funky

82-Year-Old Woman Becomes Oldest Person in Space

byVictor Tangermann
Jul 20
Blue Origin

She was meant to fly to space with NASA in the 1960s — but the government shut down the program.

Funk Flight

Spurned astronaut Wally Funk just made it to the edge of space on board Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft RSS First Step.

The small rocket launched from the West Texas desert, just after 9 am Eastern time.

At 82-years-young, Funk has become the oldest person to travel to space — or at least past the Kármán line at 62 miles, the arbitrary boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space that was ratified internationally in the 1960s.

It’s a historic achievement, and a potential milestone toward a future in which traveling to space is possible for everybody, regardless of age.

Advertisement

Serious Chops

Funk has spent over 19,600 hours flying and has taught more than 3,000 people to fly, according to The New York Times.

In 1961, Funk — alongside 12 other women — went through the Woman in Space Program, a NASA gauntlet of tests designed for the Mercury astronauts. Despite being younger than the age 24 cutoff, she was selected as a candidate for the program.

She was put through several grueling rounds of tests including having ice water pumped into her ears, the Times reported.

Not a single one of the 13 women were selected to go into space by the US government. In fact, the program was later shut down entirely.

Advertisement

On today’s flight, Funk was also accompanied by Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos, his brother, and an 18-year-old son of a private equity investment firm CEO, who won the auction by default after an unnamed millionaire couldn’t go due to “scheduling conflicts.”

In other words, at least one passenger deserved the trip.

READ MORE: Wally Funk Is Defying Gravity and 60 Years of Exclusion From Space [The New York Times]

More on Blue Origin: Elon Musk Brutally Mocks Jeff Bezos for Spaceship That Can’t Reach Orbit

Advertisement


Care about supporting clean energy adoption? Find out how much money (and planet!) you could save by switching to solar power at UnderstandSolar.com. By signing up through this link, Futurism.com may receive a small commission.

Share This Article

Copyright ©, Camden Media Inc All Rights Reserved. See our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Data Use Policy. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with prior written permission of Futurism. Fonts by Typekit and Monotype.