In the News

The sky's *not* the limit: Wally Funk makes space history

Three, two, one—blast off! As the New Shepard rocket ship shoots up into the sky, the woman inside, 82-year-old Wally Funk, is making world history. She's *officially* the oldest person to travel in space, and no one deserves this title more than her. Wally spent more than 60 years dreaming about going to space, beating out male astronauts in training and still not making the cut because she was a woman.

Wally's story is an inspiration and proof that no dream is too big, too high or too far to reach.

As a teenager, Wally wanted to take aviation-related classes in high school, but girls could only take home economics as an extracurricular. Of course, this girl boss didn't let *that* stop her and got her pilot license at only seventeen. An air racing champion, Wally knew that she was destined to fly, but not just on Earth. Instead, she became part of the Woman in Space program to prove that she had the "right stuff" for space travel (and she did!)

During her extensive space training, Wally even broke the  record for the most time spent in a sensory deprivation tank without hallucinating: 10 hours and 35 minutes. Because the military didn't let women become test pilots, even the women who did better than men in these tests weren't able to reach their dreams. 

Once women finally *were* able to be part of space travel, Wally was considered too old. Well, once again, the determined Wally Funk didn't give up on her dream—and now she's ready to beat John Glenn's record as the oldest person to travel in space.

Wally's resilience also paved the way for other women to travel in space. Nicole Stott, who spent more than 100 days in orbit, credits part of her success as an astronaut to strong women like Wally Funk. Nicole told CBS News, "All of us women astronauts...recognized that we don't get here by ourselves. We are leveraging every day kind of the awe and wonder that was put before us, the strength that was put before us." After years of perseverance, it's especially heartwarming to see Wally's reaction to her dream *finally* coming true. 

Throughout her life, Wally has inspired others to follow their dreams, training many pilots and helping women shatter the seemingly unbreakable glass ceiling of space travel. Now, Wally will finally get her moment among the stars.

Totally inspired by Wally's story like we are? Check out Netflix's *amazing* documentary about Wally and the other Mercury 13 mission's female pilots who changed the world. 


by Camille Campbell | 7/20/2021