A Virgin Galactic ticket holder who met Blue Origin passenger Wally Funk at parties said the 82-year-old had ‘the energy of 6,000 labradors’

Blue Origin astronaut Wally Funk makes a speech after the launch.
Blue Origin’s New Shepard crew member Wally Funk speaks during a press conference after flying into space in the Blue Origin New Shepard rocket on July 20, 2021 in Van Horn, Texas.

  • A Virgin Galactic ticket holder told Insider that Wally Funk was very “understated” and energetic.
  • Caroline Freeland, who is training for her spaceflight, said she met Funk at parties and talks.
  • Freeland said she also met Richard Branson, who she described as a “lovely chap.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Wally Funk, who flew to space with Jeff Bezos on Tuesday, bounces around and has endless amounts of energy.

That’s according to Virgin Galactic ticket holder, Caroline Freeland, who told Insider that she has met the 82-year-old on several occasions.

After buying her $250,000 ticket for a trip to the edge of space on Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity spaceship, Freeland, 58, was invited to former astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s 49th and 50th anniversary parties.

Picture of Virgin Galactic ticket holder next to Wally Funk
Virgin Galactic ticket holder, Caroline Freeland, standing next to Wally Funk.

The three-day celebrations in Cape Canaveral allowed Freeland to get to know many well-known astronauts, including Funk, who is the oldest person to travel into space.

Freeland, who has already completed some training for her spaceflight with Virgin Galactic, described Funk as “very understated … engaging, easy, charming, happy, and fun.”

The recent Blue Origin astronaut “really bounces around … she has the energy of 6,000 labradors,” Freeland said.

Aviator Wally Funk behind a control panel
Wally Funk behind a control panel.

Funk was part of a group of female aviators called Mercury 13 in anticipation of flying to space in the 1960s but she never got the chance to go. Bezos asked Funk to join him, his brother, and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen on a trip to space in Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket.

Funk also traveled to London and gave a speech about her experience in the space industry to 10 to 15 Virgin Galactic ticket holders, which Freeland said she attended.

Freeland said that these meetups were “one of the wonderful things about this whole journey to becoming a future astronaut.”

The ticket holder and future astronaut said she’s also met Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson, who she described as a “lovely chap.” Branson beat Bezos to space by nine days when Virgin Galactic flew its first crewed mission 55 miles above Earth.

Freeland, who is London-based, said she also met former NASA astronaut, Mike Massimino, at the parties.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Jeff Bezos’s guests describe a short, crowded spaceflight experience: ‘There was not quite enough room’

jeff bezos and three other passengers in jumpsuits float around spaceship cabin earth in background
A screengrab from video recorded inside the New Shepard capsule shows (left to right) Oliver Daemen, Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, and Wally Funk in microgravity.

Blue Origin rocketed its first passengers to the edge of space on Tuesday morning. Roughly 10 minutes later, the crew returned to the West Texas desert after spending just three minutes in zero gravity.

“I loved every minute of it,” Wally Funk, an 82-year-old aviator, said in a ceremony after the flight. “I just wish it had been longer.”

Billionaire Jeff Bezos, who founded Blue Origin in 2000, invited Funk and his brother, Mark, to accompany him on the flight. Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old high school graduate from the Netherlands, joined them. His father had purchased the final seat on the flight after an auction winner backed out.

Back on land, the passengers beamed and gave hugs all around. They popped champagne at their landing site. But some of the guests’ reviews of the flight came with caveats.

“We went right on up and I saw darkness,” Funk, now the oldest person to ever travel to space, said. “I thought I was going to see the world, but we weren’t quite high enough.”

Indeed, during the livestream Funk could be heard saying, “It’s dark up here.”

wally funk exits new shepard capsule after landing
Wally Funk emerges from the New Shepard capsule, July 20, 2021.

Once they unbuckled, the passengers could see Earth out the spaceship windows. But it wasn’t the blue marble one might witness from the moon, nor was it the same curving horizon that professional astronauts see from the International Space Station. (The station is about four times higher than the altitude Bezos and his companions reached on Tuesday.)

During the post-flight ceremony, Blue Origin shared the below video footage from inside the spaceship. In the background, you can clearly see clouds, the edge of Earth’s atmosphere, and the blackness of space beyond it.