As Wally prepares for the spaceflight she has pursued for six decades, let's review some of the roadblocks she overcame along the way.

Wally aced the Mercury astronaut physical exams in 1961. Dr. Donald Kilgore, who oversaw her testing, later said, "I was sure [the thirteen women who passed those exams] were all going to be astronauts. I just couldn't believe that this extraordinary group of people would not be regarded as an incredible resource for our space program."

Over the next several years, Wally applied four times to become a NASA astronaut---unsuccessfully.

Decades later, Wally reflected on that week of physical exams: "I wanted to give myself the chance to get into space as a 21-year-old. So pain did not matter to me. You have electrodes stuck all over your body.... And they're the type with needles, not the type of today. So it didn't feel real great."

In 1991, thirty years after the Mercury-era testing, Wally went to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. One of the simulators she rode was a gimble rig. It was like being in the center of a three-ring gyroscope, spinning on three axes simultaneously. She said, "It was absolutely fantastic...turning, twisting every which way that a body would have to withstand during spaceflight." A journalist reported, "They had a hard time getting her out of the rig when the ride was over."

The Mercury astronaut candidates went through two more phases of testing after their physical exams. Through the years, Wally arranged to under several similar tests on her own. After her Space Camp experience, she said, "I finally got into my space suit and completed Phase III...just for myself."

In 2000, Wally was preparing to pilot Interorbital Systems' entry in the Ansari X-Prize competition to fly the first privately developed, reusable vehicle into space. She spent a week training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia.

In a 2003 National Geographic video, Wally said, "I want to be a pioneer. I want to go up into space in the worst way."

In 2010, Wally paid $200,000---her life savings---to Virgin Galactic for a ticket on its upcoming suborbital spaceflight service. Eleven years later, rocket science and engineering being what they are, Virgin Galactic's service is still in development.
Wally Funk's Online World!
Outtakes from Wally's Memoir
Wally's life has been too full to include everything in one book. Each month, this page will feature something that didn't make it into Higher, Faster, Longer.
Wally's life has been too full to include everything in one book. Each month, this page will feature something that didn't make it into Higher, Faster, Longer.
As Wally prepares for the spaceflight she has pursued for six decades, let's review some of the roadblocks she overcame along the way.

Wally aced the Mercury astronaut physical exams in 1961. Dr. Donald Kilgore, who oversaw her testing, later said, "I was sure [the thirteen women who passed those exams] were all going to be astronauts. I just couldn't believe that this extraordinary group of people would not be regarded as an incredible resource for our space program."

Over the next several years, Wally applied four times to become a NASA astronaut---unsuccessfully.

Decades later, Wally reflected on that week of physical exams: "I wanted to give myself the chance to get into space as a 21-year-old. So pain did not matter to me. You have electrodes stuck all over your body.... And they're the type with needles, not the type of today. So it didn't feel real great."

In 1991, thirty years after the Mercury-era testing, Wally went to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. One of the simulators she rode was a gimble rig. It was like being in the center of a three-ring gyroscope, spinning on three axes simultaneously. She said, "It was absolutely fantastic...turning, twisting every which way that a body would have to withstand during spaceflight." A journalist reported, "They had a hard time getting her out of the rig when the ride was over."

The Mercury astronaut candidates went through two more phases of testing after their physical exams. Through the years, Wally arranged to under several similar tests on her own. After her Space Camp experience, she said, "I finally got into my space suit and completed Phase III...just for myself."

In 2000, Wally was preparing to pilot Interorbital Systems' entry in the Ansari X-Prize competition to fly the first privately developed, reusable vehicle into space. She spent a week training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia.

In a 2003 National Geographic video, Wally said, "I want to be a pioneer. I want to go up into space in the worst way."

In 2010, Wally paid $200,000---her life savings---to Virgin Galactic for a ticket on its upcoming suborbital spaceflight service. Eleven years later, rocket science and engineering being what they are, Virgin Galactic's service is still in development.
©2021 Loretta Hall