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Wally Funk into space at the age of 82

Wally Funk into space at the age of 82

Cairo – the middle gate | Monday 05 July 2021, 02:51 pm

Wally Funk in an undated photo distributed by the Blue Origin satellite company on July 1, 2021 (AFP)

Sixty years after joining a special program with the hope of one day becoming an astronaut, experienced pilot “patient” Wally Funk will finally be able to fulfill her dream.

And billionaire Jeff Bezos chose her to accompany him on the first manned space flight organized by his company “Blue Origin” on July 20, according to “AFP”.

At the age of eighty-two, the lively woman with her short silver hair will be the older person to take a trip into space.

This is very symbolic; It rewards the audacity and perseverance of a woman who assured her long ago that space is not for women.

Mercury 13
Wally Funk grew up in Taos, a small town in the US state of New Mexico. She was fond of flying, so she took her first piloting lesson at the age of nine. At school, however, she was prevented from attending mechanics lessons that were intended only for boys.

This did not prevent her from obtaining a pilot’s license and graduating from Oklahoma State University, known for the aviation program she was teaching. She now has 19,600 flying hours to her credit.

In the early 1960s, she joined an innovative program, Project Mercury, to send the first manned flight into space. At that time, the American space agency “NASA” selected a team that it subjected to tests in preparation for the flight, but it did not include any women in its ranks.

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A doctor who participated in the development of these tests, William Randolph Lovelace, decided to apply these tests to women in his private clinic to see if they would succeed in them. The results were conclusive; Thirteen women proved their worth, giving the program its name “Mercury 13.” Wali Vank was the youngest among them.

“They were pushing us to do our best,” she recounted in a 1999 interview and published by NASA’s Historical Service, but she added, “It was getting me closer to space, that was where I wanted to go.”

For example, the tests she underwent included injecting water into her ears to make her feel dizzy, or forcing her to swallow rubber tubes. In another test, she was placed inside a completely soundproof tank, filled with body-temperature water, in complete darkness so that she could no longer feel anything.

“I was floating on my back in the water, without being able to use my five senses… I just had to stay there lying,” she said. And she broke the record by staying 10 hours and 35 minutes in the aquarium.

And she noted in a video posted online, Thursday, that in the end, “they told me I did the work better and faster than any of the men.”

However, the program was discontinued; Because NASA didn’t want it. It was necessary to wait until 1983 for the first American woman to go into space.

Commenting on the matter, Wally Funk said in 1999: “It was interesting that we could have done it but they wouldn’t let us. Made by a dog, done by a monkey. done by a man. Women can also do it.”

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inspector and investigator
Wally Funk has submitted her nomination to NASA four times to be an astronaut. Her application was rejected four times for a variety of reasons, including the fact that she did not hold an engineering degree and did not undergo a warplane pilot program, which was not allowed for a woman at the time.

Despite this, she did not abandon her ambition that prompted her to become the first female inspector in the US Federal Aviation Agency, and then the first female investigator with the authority that deals specifically with aviation disasters, auditing in the course of her work more than 450 accidents until her retirement in 1984. She taught Flying for three thousand people in total.

Wally Funk currently lives in Texas, but her dream of going beyond gravity has not left her. When asked in the 1999 interview about her biggest success, she replied, “If I could go to space, it would be.”


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