Bezos rocket launch: What did Wally Funk tape to window of spacecraft?

A small piece of paper could be seen inside spacecraft New Shepard

Helen Elfer
Tuesday 20 July 2021 19:16 BST
Jeff Bezos launches himself into space on Blue Origin rocket
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The woman who has just become the oldest-ever US astronaut to go into space took a souvenir from Earth as she blasted into space on Blue Origin rocket New Shepard.

Wally Funk, 82, stuck a postcard in the window of the spacecraft. The card featured a picture of herself in front of an American flag.

During a pre-flight interview, Ms Funk told Blue Origin’s director of astronaut and orbital sales, Ariane Cornell, that she planned to take a postcard with a picture of herself in front of an American flag on board the spacecraft, reports Business Insider.

She held up the postcard, saying: “Thats what is going to be on the window when I go up. I’m going to take a picture with it with the earth behind me."

Ms Funk first trained to go into space in the 1960s, with a group of female aviators known as the Mercury 13. The women underwent rigorous testing and training as part of a privately-funded project, while Mercury, NASA’s first attempt to send men into space, also got underway.

As part of her testing, reports The Atlantic, Ms Funk floated inside a tank of water in a dark, soundproofed room, unable to see, hear, or feel anything. She emerged 10 hours and 35 minutes later,  not because she asked to, but because the doctor overseeing the test decided to call proceedings to a halt.

By contrast, John Glenn, who went on to become the first American to orbit Earth and one of the most recognisable names in American spaceflight, spent three hours at a  desk in a dark, soundproofed room. He found some paper in the darkness, pulled a pencil out of his pocket, and spent the time writing poems.

In the end, the women’s programme was shut down altogether. None of the female group got to go into space, while all of their male peers, known as the Mercury Seven, went on to do so.

Ms Funk went on to become the first female Federal Aviation Administration inspector, as and first female air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board. She has received the FAA Gold Seal and was one of the first 100 women to receive the Airline Transport Rating, reports Business Insider. Throughout her career, she has accrued 19,600 flight hours and taught more than 3,000 students to fly.

Today, the 82-year-old was one of three other passengers who went into space with Jeff Bezos, including the billionaire’s brother Mark Bezos and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen.

Whether Ms Funk did indeed manage to get a snap of her postcard with Earth behind it remains to be seen – fans of the aviation pioneer are keeping their fingers crossed.

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