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Wally Funk, 82, to join Jeff Bezos space flight

An 82-year-old woman who has spent six decades trying to reach space will join Jeff Bezos on the first human flight by his space company later this month.

Wally Funk, who underwent training in the 1960s, will become the oldest person to ever fly to space.

Mr Bezos has invited Ms Funk as an “honoured guest” and shared video on Instagram of him telling her the news.

She will join the Amazon founder, his brother Mark and a mystery person who paid $28m (£20m) at auction for a seat.

The company plans to launch its passengers more than 100km (62 miles) above the Earth’s surface, allowing them to experience microgravity.

The capsule will then return to Earth using parachutes on a trip expected to last about 10 minutes.

In a two-minute clip posted online, Mr Bezos is seen telling Ms Funk that she has been chosen for the trip.

“I didn’t think I’d ever get to go up,” she says in the video.

Passion for flying

Born in New Mexico in 1939, Wally Funk says she has had a life-long love of aviation.

She has logged 19,600 flight hours across her career and taught some 3,000 people to fly.

The 82-year-old has already made history a number of times – serving as the first female air safety investigator for the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) and the first woman to be an inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US.

Funk volunteered in 1961 for the Women in Space programme where she underwent rigorous physical and mental testing in the hope of becoming an astronaut.

But the scheme was later abruptly cancelled and she and the other women – collectively known as the Mercury 13 – never made it to space with Nasa.

Undated black and white image shows Wally Funk next to US air force aircraft
image caption”No one has waited longer,” Mr Bezos wrote about Funk (pictured) on his post

Ms Funk previously spent $200,000 (£145,000) in 2010 on a ticket for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic programme – which recently got FAA approval to start taking paying customers on its own rocket missions.

“I can’t tell people watching how fabulous I feel to have been picked by Blue Origin to go on this trip” Ms Funk says in the video, adding she expects to “love every second” of the journey.

Jeff Bezos is one of the world’s richest people.

He created Blue Origin in 2000 and announced last month that he and his brother would embark on the flight – described it as something he had wanted to do “all my life”.

New Shepard rocket - annotated image
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