Blue Origin will attempt a historic first crewed spaceflight Tuesday (July 20), as the company attempts to launch its billionaire founder Jeff Bezos and a crew of three to kick-start a space tourist program for those who’ve always wanted to fly in space.
If all goes to plan, the company’s New Shepard rocket and capsule will take off for an 11-minute journey, launching and landing outside Van Horn, Texas at Blue Origin facilities, dubbed Launch Site One. The rocket will carry the spacecraft on a suborbital path before separating, allowing the crew to descend in their capsule under parachutes for a ground landing. Liftoff is set for 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT).
Crew member Wally Funk, 82, has been waiting for the longest for the flight opportunity. The Mercury 13 aviator tried six decades ago to join NASA’s astronaut corps but was excluded due to her gender and lack of military experience during an era when American women were excluded from military pilots. The first American woman in space, Sally Ride, didn’t reach orbit until 1983.
When Funk was asked in a CBS interview Monday (July 19) about her weight since she was a “twentysomething”, Funk joked that she still feels 24 years old. Indeed, the octogenarian said she plans to do “somersaults and tumble and do anything that I’ve learned to do” during her 19,600 hours of flight experience on Earth.