October 22, 2021

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Aviation pioneer Wally Funk, the oldest person to fly in space, can’t wait to go back after Blue Origin launch

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After a six-decade wait to launch off the Earth, new space traveler Wally Funk is ecstatic. 

The 82-year-old aviation pioneer (and now the oldest person ever to fly in space) launched on a suborbital flight Tuesday (July 20) aboard New Shepard, a private rocket built by Blue Origin and financed by billionaire Jeff Bezos, who was also on the flight. The trip, Funk said, was “incredible.” 

Funk – who attempted unsuccessfully to join NASA’s astronaut corps four times and was part of the Mercury 13 group of female aviators who took astronaut tests — finally flew on New Shepard’s debut crewed spaceflight for free at the invitation of billionaire founder Jeff Bezos. Also joining her was Bezos’ venture capitalist brother Mark, and paying passenger and physics student Oliver Daemen.

Related: Jeff Bezos launches into space on Blue Origin’s 1st astronaut flight

Mercury 13 aviation pioneer Wally Funk, 82, waves to a crowd after launching on Blue Origin’s first crewed flight of the suborbital New Shepard rocket and capsule from Launch Site One near Van Horn, Texas on July 20, 2021. (Image credit: Blue Origin)

“I’ve been waiting a long time to finally get up there,” Funk said during a livestreamed postflight briefing Tuesday from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One near Van Horn, Texas.

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