The countdown is on! Trailblazing female pilot will head to space 60 years after qualifying

Sixty years after killing it in the Mercury 13 program, Marry Wallace Funk, better known as “Wally” Funk, is finally going to space. The announcement comes from Amazon CEO and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos who said on Instagram Thursday that Funk will be on New Shepard's first crewed flight, scheduled for July 20. At the age of 82, Funk will be the oldest person to fly to space. She will join Bezos, his brother Mark, and an unidentified winner of an auction as passengers on Blue Origin's maiden space tourism flight. “No one has waited longer,” Bezos’ Instagram post caption read. “In 1961, Wally Funk was at the top of her class as part of the ‘Mercury 13’ Woman in Space Program. Despite completing their training, the program was cancelled, and none of the thirteen flew. “It’s time. Welcome to the crew, Wally. We’re excited to have you fly with us on July 20th as our honored guest.” Funk and 13 other women went through the same tests as the Mercury Seven through a “Women in Space Program” in 1961, but while the Mercury Seven traveled to space, none of the Mercury 13 were able to due to their gender. At the time NASA decided they would only accept trained fighter jet pilots, a job open to only men, as candidates to become astronauts, The New York Times reported. It didn’t matter that women, including Funk, had the same skills as men. The youngest in her program, Funk ranked third among all candidates. She was even told she "had done better and completed the work faster than any of the guys,” she said, according to the video posted to Bezos’ Instagram account. Despite being told that women should not be allowed to use military facilities needed for space training and could not go to space, Funk did not give up; she kept trying. With an astounding flight time, Funk applied three times to join NASA's astronaut program after the agency opened it to women; however, she never got her chance to go to space. Six decades after her first attempt, she'll finally get her chance to make history as the oldest person to fly into space. But this isn’t the first time Funk is making history. Funk has made history on multiple occasions including being the first female inspector in the Federal Aviation Administration and the first woman to become an air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board. "I got ahold of NASA four times and said 'I want to become an astronaut,' but nobody would take me," Funk said in the video posted to Bezos’ Instagram. "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." Watch the video below in which Funk not only talks about her excitement to finally fulfill her dream but the disappointment she felt when NASA stood by its initial impulse to exclude women from the astronaut corps, despite the qualifying marks of the 13 women of the First Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLATs). YouTube Video

The countdown is on! Trailblazing female pilot will head to space 60 years after qualifying

Sixty years after killing it in the Mercury 13 program, Marry Wallace Funk, better known as “Wally” Funk, is finally going to space. The announcement comes from Amazon CEO and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos who said on Instagram Thursday that Funk will be on New Shepard's first crewed flight, scheduled for July 20. At the age of 82, Funk will be the oldest person to fly to space. She will join Bezos, his brother Mark, and an unidentified winner of an auction as passengers on Blue Origin's maiden space tourism flight.

“No one has waited longer,” Bezos’ Instagram post caption read. “In 1961, Wally Funk was at the top of her class as part of the ‘Mercury 13’ Woman in Space Program. Despite completing their training, the program was cancelled, and none of the thirteen flew.

“It’s time. Welcome to the crew, Wally. We’re excited to have you fly with us on July 20th as our honored guest.”

Funk and 13 other women went through the same tests as the Mercury Seven through a “Women in Space Program” in 1961, but while the Mercury Seven traveled to space, none of the Mercury 13 were able to due to their gender. At the time NASA decided they would only accept trained fighter jet pilots, a job open to only men, as candidates to become astronauts, The New York Times reported.

It didn’t matter that women, including Funk, had the same skills as men. The youngest in her program, Funk ranked third among all candidates. She was even told she "had done better and completed the work faster than any of the guys,” she said, according to the video posted to Bezos’ Instagram account.

Despite being told that women should not be allowed to use military facilities needed for space training and could not go to space, Funk did not give up; she kept trying. With an astounding flight time, Funk applied three times to join NASA's astronaut program after the agency opened it to women; however, she never got her chance to go to space. Six decades after her first attempt, she'll finally get her chance to make history as the oldest person to fly into space.

But this isn’t the first time Funk is making history. Funk has made history on multiple occasions including being the first female inspector in the Federal Aviation Administration and the first woman to become an air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.

"I got ahold of NASA four times and said 'I want to become an astronaut,' but nobody would take me," Funk said in the video posted to Bezos’ Instagram. "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."

Watch the video below in which Funk not only talks about her excitement to finally fulfill her dream but the disappointment she felt when NASA stood by its initial impulse to exclude women from the astronaut corps, despite the qualifying marks of the 13 women of the First Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLATs).