82-year-old New Mexico native will join Bezos on Blue Origin flight

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — 82-year-old Wally Funk will head to space on Blue Origin’s flight Tuesday morning, becoming the oldest person to launch into space.

As a flight instructor born and raised in Taos, New Mexico, Funk has logged 20,000 hours of flight time and has guided 3,000 students to get their private pilot license.

In the early 1960s, Funk was one of the Mercury 13, a group of 13 American women who passed the same rigorous physical examinations as NASA’s first astronauts. But even with that – and all of her accomplishments – she never made it to space.

"They told me that I had done better and completed the work faster than any of the guys. So I got ahold 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. Nothing has ever gotten in my way, and they said ‘Wally, you’re a girl, you can’t do that.’ I said, ‘guess what? It 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," Funk said.

Now she’ll finally get to live that dream of experiencing zero gravity for about four minutes.

"I can just float to it and do my turns and do my rolls, and that’s what I’d love to do," said Funk.