Aerospace company Blue Origin's owner Jeff Bezos will go to space with an 82-year-old woman pilot, the firm said Thursday. Wally Funk was one of the first women trained to fly to space but was denied astronaut wings decades ago because of her gender.
Welcome aboard, Wally, Blue Origin said on Twitter.
Blue Origin announced that Funk will be aboard the July 20 launch from Texas, flying in the capsule for the 10-minute hop as an honoured guest.
Funk, Bezos, his brother and the winner of a charity auction will be the first people to ride a New Shepard rocket.
In the 1960s, Funk was among the so-called Mercury 13 women who went through astronaut training. But they never made it to space or even NASA's astronaut corps because of their gender.
No one has waited longer, Bezos said in an Instagram video.
Nothing has ever gotten in my way, Funk said in the Instagram video posted by Bezos, the founder of retail giant Amazon and, with a net worth of over US$200 billion, the richest man in the world.
”They said, 'Well, 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 has ever done.''
Funk was the first female inspector for the US Federal Aviation Administration and the first female air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board. She said she has 19,600 flying hours and has taught more than 3,000 people to fly.
Bezos invitation of Wally is also described as a PR stunt, a woman, trained as an astronaut, but who never went on a mission despite the rigorous training and experience because of her gender.