- Jeff Bezos has revealed the fourth passenger joining his space voyage this month.
- Wally Funk is an 82-year-old woman aviator who trained to go to space in the 1960s.
- Funk and 12 others were ultimately denied the opportunity because they were women.
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Jeff Bezos has revealed the fourth passenger aboard his rocket to space this month.
Bezos posted a video to Instagram Thursday morning revealing that he has invited Wally Funk, an 82-year-old aviator who trained to go to space in the 1960s but was ultimately denied the opportunity because she was a woman.
"It's time. Welcome to the crew, Wally," Bezos wrote. "We're excited to have you fly with us on July 20th as our honored guest."
Funk got her start as a pilot instructor in Oklahoma City before joining a mission dubbed "Mercury 13" in 1961. She embarked on an extensive series of tests and trainings, which she aced — she told Texas Monthly that the researchers told her at the time she performed better than any other astronaut in the program, man or woman.
But the program was ultimately scrapped and Funk never made it to space. In 1962, two of the women from the program testified before the House Committee on Science and Astronautics, arguing that they were being denied the opportunity simply because they were women.
John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, seemed to confirm as much in his testimony: "The men go off and fight the wars and fly the airplanes and come back and help design and build and test them," he said. "The fact that women are not in this field is a fact of our social order."
While Funk never made it to space, she did on to become the first woman safety inspector at the Federal Aviation Administration and worked with the National Transportation and Safety Board, according to Texas Monthly. In the video posted to Bezos' Instagram account, Funk said she has now taught over 3,000 people to fly.
According to The Guardian, Funk paid $200,000 for a ticket to ride Virgin Galactic's suborbital plane in 2010, although the company still hasn't said when its first passengers will embark on their voyage.
Now, it seems her first visit to space will be aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard spacecraft.
"I didn't think that I would ever get to go up," Funk said in the video, which shows Bezos delivering the news in person and receiving an excited embrace from Funk in return.
Funk will join Bezos, his younger brother Mark, and a third passenger on their 11-minute trip to space on July 20. The other passenger, whose name hasn't yet been revealed, placed the winning bid of $28 million in an auction for the seat last month.