Six decades after being stripped of the opportunity because of her gender, OSU alum Wally Funk will finally take flight alongside Jeff Bezos in just one more week. She will join Bezos, his brother and the winner of the $28 million charity auction on July 20 aboard the New Shepherd rocket.
Funk was one of 13 Mercury 13 women who in the 60’s underwent their NASA training but were ultimately not allowed to go into space because they were female. Now is finally her chance as she will join Bezos as his “honored guest.”
“No one has waited longer," Bezos said via Instagram. "It's time. Welcome to the crew, Wally."
At 82 years old, Funk will be the oldest person in space, beating John Glenn, who in 1998 set the record at 77 years old aboard the Discovery space shuttle.
Funk was the youngest of the Mercury 13 women and had just graduated from OSU at the time she was denied the opportunity she deserved. In a 2018 interview with the Oklahoman, Funk said she chose OSU because of the Flying Aggie flight team. Funk also said the Flying Aggies did not discriminate against women and allowed for equal opportunity within the program.
After 60 years, Funk still has the same great attitude and has never given up on her dream. In just one week she will finally have the opportunity she has always deserved.
"I'll love every second of it. Whoooo! Ha-ha. I can hardly wait," Funk said in an Instagram video posted by Bezos.
Funk was the first female inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration and the first female air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board. Funk and the 12 other women underwent rigorous training to see if women would be able to go to space, all 13 women passed. Even after passing all the difficult tests, they were still denied because they were female.
"They told me that I had done better and completed the work faster than any of the guys," Funk recalled. "So I got hold of NASA four times. I said I want to become an astronaut, but nobody would take me. I didn't think that I would ever get to go up."
Funk will finally get her chance to achieve her lifelong dream of going to space. She is an inspiration to all and a perfect example of never giving up on your dreams, no matter what anyone says.
"Nothing has ever gotten in my way," she said. "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."