Wally wanted to go to space. She couldn't get there

3767 posts Member
So there was this really cool, really talented woman who in the 60s & 70s was denied her chance to go to space because of sexism. She passed all the basic tests to be an astronaut AND was an accomplished pilot (an instructor from the age of TWENTY), but NASA required that their pilots have experience as a military test pilot (women weren't allowed to be military pilots then, much less test pilots) and their non pilots were required to be scientists with very advanced degrees with a history of valuable research in a relevant field. The first non pilot to the moon, for instance, was a geologist so that he could use his expert eye to select the best and most interesting rock samples.

Well, Mary Wallace "Wally" Funk was no scientist, and being barred by the military from being a test pilot was a civilian instructor and safety specialist, but that wasn't good enough. She could not qualify as a science officer or pilot (or mission commander, which required one be a pilot first).

Slowly the requirements changed, and nowadays pilots don't have to have military test pilot experience so long as they are expert pilots who can prove through something other than a military record that they have the chops. But by the time the requirements changed, Wally had already passed the age limit at which NASA would no longer consider someone for space missions.

First her gender, then her age. It just wasn't to be. Now 82 years old, Wally Funk will never be a NASA astronaut.

But that ain't the end of the story, because Jeff Bezos' rocket company Blue Origin is sending up 4 people in its first manned mission. Two seats are for Bezos and his brother. One seat was auctioned off (someone bought that ticket for $28 million), and they reserved the last seat for Wally.

She pays nothing, except maybe giving a little expert piloting advice, and she's finally getting her dream of throwing herself off this planet while riding a stick of dynamite.

She's braver than me. Congrats to Wally Funk, and nice choice for a 4th passenger, Blue Origin.
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