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Forget Bezos, 82-year-old Wally Funk just made history as the world’s oldest astronaut

Forget Bezos, 82-year-old Wally Funk just made history as the world’s oldest astronaut

"I've been waiting a long time to finally get up there," said the 82-year-old aviation icon.

Forget Bezos, 82-year-old Wally Funk just made history as the world’s oldest astronaut

82-year-old Wally Funk has made history as the oldest person to fly to space. Funk joined Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on the Blue Origin spaceflight on Tuesday, 20 August.

While the media’s attention was drawn to the billionaire Bezos, Funk quickly stole the show with her impressive achievement and charming personality.

“I’ve been waiting a long time to finally get up there,” said the aviator. It’s not the only world record to her name. Funk has achieved an impressive amount in her lifetime as a pilot.

At just 22 years old (and despite being under the age requirement of 24), Funk joined the famous Mercury 13 group to become one of the first female astronauts. At time, Funk went through the same testing as NASA’s astronauts but was ultimately overlooked by the agency because of her gender.

Funk went on to participate in NASA’s Women in Space Programme in 1961, noted for surpassing some of the men who were selected for the astronaut programme.

As a successful pilot who was top of her class, Funk was the first female civilian flight instructor at a US military base and has amassed more than 19,500 flying hours throughout her career (more than the three men on the Blue Origin flight combined).

“I’ve done a lot of astronaut training through the world, Russia, America, and I could always beat the guys on what they were doing because I was always stronger, and I have always done everything on my own,” she said after the flight.

Funk was all smiles as she landed back on earth after the 10-minute space flight and expressed her joy and gratitude for finally realising her dream of becoming an astronaut.

“I saw darkness, I thought I was going to see the world, but we weren’t quite high enough,” she said excitedly. “And I felt great. I felt like I was just lying down, just lying down — and I was going into space.”

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