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Did Any of the Women in the “Mercury 13” Program Go into Space?

Updated May 23, 2024
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If good things really do come to those who wait, then aviation pioneer Wally Funk is about to have the time of her life. As a matter of fact, calling it "heavenly" might not be that much of a stretch, seeing as the 82-year-old Funk will be going into space aboard New Shepard as a member of Blue Origin's first crewed spaceflight. In doing so, she will become the oldest person to fly to space.

When New Shepard lifts off on July 20, exactly 52 years from the day Apollo 11 reached the moon, Funk will finally achieve what was promised to her in 1959 when she joined the "Women in Space" program. Better known as the "Mercury 13," the privately-organized counterpart to NASA's all-male Project Mercury program was ultimately disbanded before any of the female astronaut trainees could take flight. The Mercury 13 women went through the same physiological tests as the Mercury 7 men, with Funk even scoring higher on some of the tests than John Glenn.

A professional aviator since the age of 20, Funk has put in nearly 20,000 flight hours and taught flying to more than 3,000 people. Funk was also the first female inspector for both the Federal Aviation Agency and the National Transportation Safety Board.

On the Blue Origin space flight, Funk will be joined by Blue Origin founder and Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, and one ticket auction winner. On Instagram, Bezos is shown asking Funk what happens when her trip is complete. She replies: "I will say, 'Honey, that’s the best thing that ever happened to me!'"

More about Blue Origin:

  • The as-yet-unnamed ticket auction winner paid $28 million USD for a seat on the flight; nearly 8,000 bidders were involved.

  • Blue Origin's logo is a feather, which is meant to represent the human desire to reach the sky like a bird.

  • The company hopes to reach the moon by 2024 with a lunar lander known as "Blue Moon."

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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