Wally Funk Sets World Record During Space Flight

Wally Funk, right, and the crew of Blue Origin’s New Shepard, celebrate at a post-flight press conference after a successful flight to space and back on July 20. Blue Origin

Blue Origin broke four Guinness World Records titles during its July flight to space, including one for famed pilot Wally Funk.

The mission, which was the aerospace company’s first successful human flight to space, launched on July 20 from the company’s Launch Site One near Van Horn, Texas, carrying four astronauts: Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos; his brother, Mark Bezos; aviation pioneer Funk; and Blue Origin’s first customer, then-18-year-old Oliver Daemen.

The 11-minute journey aboard New Shepard—Blue Origin’s fully reusable suborbital spacecraft—took them past the Karman Line, the internationally recognized boundary of space.

Another crewed flight of New Shepard is expected to launch Tuesday.

The Records

On Friday, Guinness announced the records that were broken:

Oldest person in space: Wally Funk was 82 years and 169 days old on the day of the flight. She is an American aviator who was one of the 13 women selected to take part in the “Mercury 13″ program, a privately funded initiative that subjected a group of 25 female pilots to the same gruelling physical and mental tests that the “Mercury 7″ group of male astronauts went through. She was one of the 13 women that passed these tests. In fact, Funk scored higher than the male candidates in several areas.

She was determined to carve a path for herself in the exclusively male aviation industry.

Her historic achievements include:

  • First female air safety investigator for the NTSB
  • First female civilian flight instructor at Fort Sill, Oklahoma (a U.S. Army base)
  • First female FAA inspector

Funk, a trailblazer for female aviators, finally was able to achieve her lifelong goal of flying into space for the first time at the age of 82.

With the flight, Funk surpassed a record set in 1998 by the late Mercury 7 astronaut John Glenn, who joined the crew of Space Shuttle mission STS-95 at 77 years of age.

First siblings in space at the same time: Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark are the first siblings to go to space together.

Youngest person to go to space: Oliver Daemen, of the Netherlands, is the youngest person to go to space at the age of just 18 years, 334 days. He was also the first customer on a Blue Origin flight.

First suborbital spacecraft to carry paying customers: With Daemen on board, New Shepard became the first suborbital spacecraft to carry paying customers.

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