The fourth and final passenger of the New Shepard has been revealed, and it might not be who anyone expected.
Jeff Bezos, who is heading up to space with his brother and the $28-million auction winner, selected an 82-year-old woman as their “honored guest.”
But Wally Funk isn’t just any random 82-year-old.
Six decades ago, Funk trained to be an astronaut with NASA’s Mercury program but the opportunity to go to space never came – until now.
Bezos made the announcement on Wednesday on Instagram, explaining that Funk was part of Mercury 13’s Women in Space program and tops in her class.
But even after all 13 women completed the training, the program was cancelled and none of them flew.
“Welcome to the crew, Wally,” Bezos wrote.
“We’re excited to have you fly with us on July 20th as our honored guest.”
He added the hashtag #GradatimFerociter, the motto of his spaceflight company, Blue Origin, which means “step by step, ferociously.”
Bezo’s message was alongside a video of him telling Funk the good news, as well as a little history on her love of flying and dreams of heading to space.
“I’ve been flying forever, and I have 19,600 flying hours,” she says in the video. “I have taught over 3,000 people to fly… everything that the FAA has, I’ve got the license for.”
She added, with a laugh: “And I can outrun you.”
Funk was the youngest woman to graduate from the program, and was told she “had done better and completed the work faster than any of the guys,” she said in regards to the seven men who NASA selected instead.
“I didn’t think that I would ever get to go up. Nothing has ever gotten in my way,” she added. “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.”
The New Shepard flies up on July 20.