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Billionaire Jeff Bezos, announced earlier today that Wally Funk, one of the aviators of "Mercury 13"  is joining him for a ride on his space company, Blue Origin's first crewed mission.

Funk, one of the aviators who fought to open the early astronaut program of NASA to women, a The Verge report said, is bringing the crew size for the debut flight of New Shepard, carrying humans later this month to four.  

These passengers include Bezos, his brother Mark, and another tourist yet to be named, who paid $28 million for a space trip in an auction that closed last month.

The presence of Bezo on this initial flight, this report specified, is observed as a "show of confidence" in the safety of New Shepard.

ALSO READ: Blue Origin: Jeff Bezos to Auction off First Space Tourism Flight Aboard New Shepard for July

Science Times - 'Mercury 13' Pilot Wally Funk to Join Jeff Bezos on Virgin Galactic's First Crewed Mission on Earth's Atmosphere
(Photo : MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)
Future space tourists led by Wally Funk, have paid their deposits on the $200,000.00 fare, celebrate before the Virgin Galactic VSS Enterprise spacecraft’s first public landing during the Spaceport America runway dedication ceremony near Las Cruces in 2010.

A Symbolic Move

The inclusion of Funk as an honored guest is the most recent symbolic move to launch the space tourism program of Blue Origin, the date, July 20, is the anniversary of the landing of the first US Moon, and the New Shepard capsule is named after first American astronaut, Alan Shepard.

On his Instagram account, Bezos wrote, Wally Funk was at the top of her class in 1961, of the Mercury 13 Woman in Space Program. Despite the completion of their training, added the company owner on his IG post, the program was cancelled and no one among the 13 members flew.

As part of his announcement, Bezos said "It's time". He also welcomed Funk to the crew, adding how excited he is to have the 82-year-old former pilot, fly with them on July 20, 2021, as their honored guest.

Wally Funk, An Iconic Aviator

Funk was an iconic aviator in the mid-20th century and among the 13 women who graduated from the privately funded Women in Space Program. Under this program, she went through rigorous astronaut training although, was eventually never able to go to space.

When in 1976, NASA opened its astronaut applications up to women, Funk applied three times but she was rejected each time.

The 82-year-old Mercury 13 pilot's space enthusiasm has not died. She booked a front-row seat as well, on the suborbital SpaceShipTwo plane from the space tourism firm Virgin Galactic of Richard Branson that competes with Blue Origin, as the Texas Monthly magazine reported.

Like New Shepard, SpaceShip Two is flying to edge space approximately 62 miles high, the internationally recognized marker designated for space.

The Mercury 13

Space.com report said, with the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik in 1957, the first artificial satellite, the space race between the United States and USSR was officially in progress.

However, it was a question then of how to hire for a position no one else has ever held and before the US had even inaugurated an uncrewed satellite into space.

The Harvard Medicine magazine reported that the US officials turned to aerospace physician Dr. William Randolph "Randy" Lovelace, and NASA's committee on life science head, for guidance.

He was in charge of developing physical and mental tests to guarantee that astronauts could be able to manage the rigors of running in microgravity.

Such testing was exceptionally thorough in order to deal with all known and unknown challenges of space travel.

A related report is shown on CBSDFW's YouTube video below:

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