On October 13, actor William Shatner became the oldest person ever to venture into space at 90 years old. He was the second person to make that world record in less than three months after 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk made the flight on Jeff Bezo’s first Blue Origins space mission on July 20, 2021. Shatner and Funk both took an 11-minute trip to the edge of outer space and back.
Blue Origins is Amazon mogul Jeff Bezo’s pet project that takes private citizens to the brink of space. So far, the trips have broken two world records for the oldest people ever in space, and if all goes well, maybe that trend will continue — maybe 99-year-old Betty White will be up for it next!?
After all, both Funk and Shatner said their flights were amazing experiences. According to CNN, Shatner said it was “the most profound experience … I hope I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it.”
Funk, a former trainee of the Mercury 13 women in space program in the early 1960s, who never ended up going to space, said, “I loved every minute of it. I just wish it had been longer,” according to The New York Post.
John Glenn was in space for nine days at 77
While 90 and 82 are certainly an advanced age to go to space, it’s such a short trip, and they really just have to go as passengers, so it’s pretty doable. Typically, though, space isn’t exactly a super young person’s game anyway. According to the website Oldest, NASA generally sends people who around 40 years old to space, though candidates can range in age from 26 to 46. But when NASA goes to space, it’s not just for a quick joyride, and experience is important to the success and safety of their extended missions.
In 1998, astronaut John Glenn became the oldest astronaut to travel in space at the age of 77, per NASA, where he spent nine days on the space shuttle Discovery as a payload specialist. But according to Oldest, several astronauts have been on missions to space into their late 50s and early 60s.
Still, Blue Origins is an entirely different opportunity. Instead of years of education and training that could lead to a chance to get to outer space, lots of money and/or fame can get you there. Sure, that means most of our chances of having that experience are still pretty slim, still, we’re saying there is a chance. But Betty White, she’s a shoo-in.
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