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Wally Funk to Join Bezos's Suborbital Flight, Richard Branson's Suborbital Flight Set for July 11

Accepted submission by takyon at 2021-07-02 00:21:01

Blue Origin flight: Wally Funk, 82, to join Jeff Bezos space flight []

An 82-year-old woman who has spent six decades trying to reach space will join Jeff Bezos on the first human flight by his space company later this month. Wally Funk, who underwent training in the 1960s, will become the oldest person to ever fly to space. Mr Bezos has invited Ms Funk as an "honoured guest" and shared video on Instagram of him telling her the news. She will join the Amazon founder, his brother Mark and a mystery person who paid $28m (£20m) at auction for a seat.

[...] Funk volunteered in 1961 for the Women in Space programme where she underwent rigorous physical and mental testing in the hope of becoming an astronaut. But the scheme was later abruptly cancelled and she and the other women - collectively known as the Mercury 13 - never made it to space with Nasa.

Game on—Sir Richard Branson will attempt to go to space on July 11 []

On Thursday afternoon, Virgin Galactic said its founder, British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, will attempt to go to space on July 11.

Dubbed the "Unity 22" mission, this flight on the VSS Unity spacecraft will carry a full crew of two pilots, Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, and four mission specialists, including Branson. "Building on the success of the company's most recent spaceflight in May, Unity 22 will focus on cabin and customer experience objectives," the company said in a statement.

The timing of this flight is significant, because a July 11 mission would allow Branson to beat Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to space. Bezos has said he will fly on the first human flight of the New Shepard spacecraft, developed and tested by his Blue Origin rocket company. That mission is set for July 20.

Thursday had been a great day for Bezos and Blue Origin, as the company received plaudits from across the space industry for inviting Wally Funk [] to join Bezos on the New Shepard flight. Funk, 82, was member of the privately funded "Mercury 13" program for women who ultimately were not selected to go into space in the 1960s. She is seen as someone who really, really deserves to go to space.

But Virgin Galactic's announcement will upstage this moment for Bezos, as it furthers the "battle of the billionaires" to see who will go into space first.

Previously: Jeff Bezos Will Fly on Blue Origin's First Human Spaceflight []
Branson May Make a Last-Ditch Effort to Beat Bezos Into Space []
Blue Origin Auctions New Shepard Seat for $28 Million []

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