Wally Funk’s Race for Space
Mr B's review
Mr B’s Christmas Catalogue Review 2018
Wally Funk should have been amongst America’s first female astronauts. She was 1 of 13 pilots to participate in the 1961 Women in Space programme, and she aced it; only for the scheme to be cancelled. In this biography, full of interviews and encounters with the now octogenarian Funk, we get tales of early promise and heart-breaking disappointment, of her later pioneering career in aviation safety and of the ongoing dream as Funk prepares to be amongst the first space tourists.
The biography of Wally Funk as seen in the acclaimed major Netflix documentary Mercury 13
In 1961, Wally Funk was among the Mercury 13, the first group of American pilots to pass the Woman in Space programme. Wally sailed through a series of rigorous physical and mental tests, with one of her scores beating all the male Mercury 7 astronauts’, including John Glenn’s, the first American in orbit.
But just one week before the final phase of training, the programme was abruptly cancelled. A combination of politics and prejudice meant that none of the women ever flew into space. Undeterred, Wally went on to become America’s first female aviation safety inspector, though her dream of being an astronaut never dimmed.
In this offbeat odyssey, journalist and fellow space buff Sue Nelson joins Wally, now approaching her eightieth birthday, as she races to make her own giant leap, before it’s too late. Covering their travels across the United States and Europe – taking in NASA’s mission control in Houston, the European Space Agency’s HQ in Paris and Spaceport America in New Mexico, where Wally’s ride into space awaits – this is a uniquely intimate and entertaining portrait of a true aviation trailblazer.
‘Wally Funk’s story is a textbook study in indefatigable, American, can-do spirit.’ – The Guardian; “Fascinating and poignant … puts the story of women in space front and centre’ – Dallas Campbell;’A wonderful, vivid portrait of Wally Funk that explores the crucial part women have played in space exploration.’ – Libby Jackson, author of A Galaxy of Her Own;’A charming window into the life of an extraordinary woman.’ – Angela Saini, author of Inferior;’Inspiring … I am in great admiration of Wally Funk who showed tremendous courage and determination at a time when the world of space flight was dominated by men.’ – Jan Worner, Director General of the European Space Agency