Jeff Bezos, William Loveless, Richard Branson discussed on TIME's Top Stories


Brought to you by macy's wally funk is going to space aboard. Jeff bezos says rocket. Here's why that matters by jeffrey kluger. There's a good reason for all the fuss about wally. Funk this week on july twentieth funk age eighty two an aviator the first female air safety investigator for the national transportation safety board and the first female inspector for the federal aviation administration will climb aboard a blue origin new shepard spacecraft and fly a sub orbital arc more than one hundred kilometers or sixty two miles up becoming the oldest person ever to go to space. The flight comes courtesy of blue origin founder. Jeff bezos who is accompanying funk and two other passengers on the first crude flight of his company spacecraft base os tapped her for the mission last month fulfilling funk's lifetime dream of going to space and released an irresistible video of him breaking the news to her in person and asking her what her first words would be when she landed. I would say honey. That's the best thing that ever happened to me. She exulted grabbing the richest man in the world in a bear hug so what's not the like about funk inner trip not a thing except that in some ways the plaudits for her are coming sixty years too late in nineteen sixty one funk then aged twenty one and already a professional aviation instructor joined what was formerly known as the women in space program. An aspirational project. That in fact had not a lick of a chance of ever sending so much as a single woman to so much as a single square foot of space privately. Funded by william loveless a physician and flight surgeon in the army medical corps reserve women in space was a sort of proof of concept idea running parallel to nasa's mercury program which was then training the seven men who very much were going to go to space. It was designed to put a similar core of women through exactly the same physical mental tests being administered to the male astronauts to see how they fared as it happened they fared just fine with nineteen women enrolling and thirteen graduating funk at the top of the class proving that women could pass the same rigorous tests the men could and then nothing the program folded after that and the women who became popularly known as the mercury thirteen watched from the ground as the men of nasa flu and flu and flu funk applied to become a commercial airline pilot and was again passed over almost certainly because of her gender instead she continued training other people to fly and ultimately assuming her positions with the faa and the ntsb she estimates she trained more than three thousand eventual pilots and she has accumulated nineteen thousand six hundred hours of flight time herself or the equivalent of two point two years at the stick still space beckoned instill funk persisted in nineteen seventy nine. When nasa first announced it was accepting female astronaut candidates. She applied for the job. Four times in fact never making the cont partly because of her age. She was forty by the time. Nasa began accepting female applicants. And yet she didn't give up on the dream deciding her best bet to make it to space was as a paying passenger in twenty ten. She put a deposit down to fly aboard. Richard branson's virgin galactic spacecraft in the event it ever flew branson did fly on july eleventh beating fellow billionaire basis to space by nine days presuming. Everything goes as planned for blue origin next week but if branson jumped the flight q. Basis jumped the funk q. Inviting her last month to fly on his ship immediately and for free this is walis life ambition and she deserves it after decades of waiting. It's time she finally gets to go says. Linda mills blue origin vice president of communications. We're excited to celebrate. This moment. With her and thrilled she'll finally get to earn her astronaut. Wings the fact that funk is earning those wings as the oldest person to fly in space maybe a smaller part of our larger story but it comes with a certain circularity. She'll break the record set by john. Glenn who in nineteen ninety eight made his second trip to space thirty six years after becoming the first american to orbit the earth at age seventy seven shortly after he made that first historic journey. He testified before congress about the wisdom of opening up the space program to women and he did not cover himself and glory. The men go off and fight the wars and fly the airplanes and come back and help design and build and test them. He said the fact that women are not in this field as a fact of our social order that long ago social order has happily been demolished. But not before it did funk wrong now generations later the wrong is at least being partly righted and it's not just in the case of funk and twenty nineteen the first all female spacewalk took place. Nasa has recently chosen eighteen astronaut candidates for its artists lunar program nine men and nine women and promises that the program will land the first woman in the next man on the moon space once a man's place as at last and forever changing and wally funk is perhaps the most poignant face of that transformation it might only be midsummer but fall will be here before you know it and with it the start of a new school year. Don't worry macy's has your back first day outfits backpacks lunchboxes macy's has everything you need. Even that must have coffeemaker for those heading off to college..

Coming up next