She is 82 years old and will be the oldest person to enter space

She is 82 years old and will be the oldest person to enter space

On July 1, local time, the US private space company Blue Origin announced that the 82-year-old retired female pilot Wally Funk will be invited to meet the company’s founder and the world’s richest man on July 20. Jeff Bezos (Jeff Bezos) boarded the suborbital vehicle “New Shepard” (New Shepard) into space together. [1] to make the trip as well as Bezos’s brother Mark (Mark) and a cost of $ 28 million (about 180 million yuan) auction under the anonymous passenger space travel tickets of.

Although this trip stays in space for only a few minutes, we will still witness the birth of a new record: If all goes well, Fink will break the American astronaut John Green(John Glenn)With a record of entering space at the age of 77, he became the oldest person to enter space. But for Fink, this moment came a bit late-she was already ready to go into space, and had been waiting for 60 years.

She is 82 years old and will be the oldest person to enter space

Bezos posted a video of his meeting with Fink on social platforms. Source: Screenshot of Bezos’ social account

Preparation half a century ago

In 1961, 22-year-old Fink joined a privately funded “Women in Space” project. The person in charge, Randy Lovelace (Randy Lovelace) is a doctor who works with NASA to train astronauts. At that time, spaceflight was dominated by men. He believed that in a small spacecraft, women might not endure more pressure in spaceflight than men, and might even adapt better than men [2] . Lovelace selected 19 women to join his research project, and Fink was the youngest. At that time, she had just become the first female flight instructor in the army, and was not satisfied with taking off only in the atmosphere-Fink believed that starting early (becoming an astronaut) could keep up with the development of the US space industry.

In this project later known as ” Mercury 13 ” (Mercury 13) , Fink and her partners experienced as intense as the astronauts of the first manned space program in the United States , Project Mercury. Physical and psychological tests. The latter sent Alan Shepard, the first man in space in the United States, out of the Earth’s atmosphere and stayed in space for a few minutes, opening the history of manned spaceflight in the United States. According to records at the time, the sensory deprivation test is one of the subjects that candidates who want to become astronauts must pass. Fink once floated in a silent and light sensory deprivation tank for 10 hours and 35 minutes, and Shepard’s descendants , John Green, the first American space hero to complete an orbit around the Earth, has a record of 3 hours in similar tests.

Fink broke the single record of male astronauts in the same period, but he couldn’t break the glass ceiling above women. She and 12 other partners passed all the examinations, but did not get the chance to become an astronaut. In 1962, the U.S. Congress considered a proposal to increase the number of women in the astronaut ranks, but it did not pass. After leaving the “Mercury 13” project, Fink continued to work as a professional pilot and flight instructor. At the age of 35, he was hired by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as the first female aviation safety investigator and began to be responsible for flight safety. Accident investigation.

In 1983, the United States finally sent the first female astronaut Sally Ride into space. That year, Fink was 44 years old, and she never gave up flying, still retaining her desire for space. She contacted NASA four times to become an astronaut, but was turned away because she didn’t have an engineering degree. Fink previously said in an interview with CNN [3] : “I don’t think I can’t get up anymore, nothing can stop me. They always tell me:’Wally, you are a girl, you can’t do these things’, but I told them, no matter who you are, as long as you want to do it, things can be done .”

Age limit for entering space

This journey of Blue Origin will not carry out a series of long and complicated training for candidates like NASA, and there are no degree restrictions. The fully automated spacecraft and rocket system allows passengers to embark on a space journey after receiving a few hours of safety guidance and training on the ground. The “New Shepard” spacecraft composed of a rocket and a crew module will fly vertically upwards at three times the speed of sound and enter the edge of space about 100 kilometers high. After the propelled rocket runs out of fuel, the crew compartment will be separated from the rocket at the top position of its flight path, and will continue to move upward for a short distance under the action of inertia. This is a bit like the feeling when a roller coaster starts to fall after reaching the highest point-passengers will be brought back to the ground after experiencing a few minutes of weightlessness.

She is 82 years old and will be the oldest person to enter space

Schematic diagram of the flight trajectory of the New Shepard. Source: CNN/Blue Origin

This kind of suborbital flight is not comparable to the months-long mission to the space station, but it is enough for Fink to surpass John Green for the second time- if all goes well, she will break the latter at 82 at 77. Space record . John Green [4] is NASA’s first astronaut selection and training, in 1962 at the age of 41 take the “Friendship 7″ (Friendship 7) spacecraft into space with a time of 4 hours 55 minutes 23 seconds around the Earth three times, becoming The first astronaut in the United States to complete an orbit around the Earth. Thirty-six years later, 77-year-old Green, as a payload expert on the ” Discovery” space shuttle, once again entered space to complete a nine-day scientific research mission [5] and tested his body’s response to the microgravity environment. Study the relationship between space flight and aging.

As of December 2019, 565 astronauts from more than forty countries have entered space [6] , but whether there is an age limit to become an astronaut is still an unclear question. Although NASA has not made specific requirements for the age of candidates, according to a statistical study published in 2017 [7] , the average age of astronauts selected by NASA from 2009 to 2013 was 34.4±3.6 years, and the average retirement age It is 48.3±7.3 years old; although there is a non-linear correlation between age and whether they can be selected, candidates around 40 years old are more likely to enter the first round of interviews or to be selected in the final compared with other age groups.

Compared to age, the candidate’s body may be more important. NASA requires the candidate to be between 1.55-1.87 meters in height to prevent the crew from being able to enter the spacecraft or put on a space suit. According to related reports [8] , when China selects the first batch of astronauts, the candidates need to meet the basic requirements of 1.6-1.72 meters in height and 55-70 kg in weight.

break the limit

For Blue Origin and Bezos, inviting the 82-year-old Fink to join this space journey will undoubtedly be a clever public relations promotion [2] . This reminds the public once again that billionaires now hold the key to space tourism. Private space flight companies represented by SpaceX, Virgin Galactic , Blue Origin, etc. have launched commercial suborbital space travel plans in the past few years. In addition, there are 7 tourists relying on strong economic capabilities. I skipped the rules of the National Space Agency and experienced orbital space travel.

Fink is actually “paying” for his dream. According to reports, she had previously purchased a ticket for a Virgin Galactic suborbital space plane [9] . In this way, if Fink is still interested in suborbital flight after completing the blue origin space journey, then she still has the opportunity to continue to push the limit and set her own longest space record.

Main reference materials:

[1]https://www.blueorigin.com/news/wally-funk-will-fly-to-space-on-new-shepard

[2]https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2021/07/jeff-bezos-wally-funk-blue-origin/619344/

[3]https://edition.cnn.com/2021/07/01/tech/jeff-bezos-blue-origin-flight-wally-funk-mercury-scn/index.html

[4]https://www.space.com/34958-john-glenn-first-american-in-orbit-dies-at-95.html

[5]https://www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn/about/bios/shuttle_mission.html

[6]https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-you-have-what-it-takes-to-be-an-astronaut/

[7]https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0181381

[8]https://news.ifeng.com/c/7iQ754mDGqs

[9]https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jun/24/ill-be-flying-till-i-die-why-wally-funk-wont-give-up-her-lifelong-space-mission

This article comes from WeChat public account : Research Circle (ID: keyanquan) , author: Wei Xiao

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/she-is-82-years-old-and-will-be-the-oldest-person-to-enter-space/
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