Wally Funk’s Race for Space

15 October 2018

Wally Funk was one of the thirteen members of the 1961 Women in Space Programme.

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In 1961, Wally Funk was among the Mercury 13, the first group of American pilots to pass the ‘Women 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.

Breakfast with Wally and Sue

Join our guests for a special breakfast Q&A session. Enjoy a breakfast burrito, the best start to any astronaut’s day, whilst listening to Wally’s story. Ask questions and find out more, in this family-friendly session for fans and those with an interest in this fascinating period in history, from one of the people who lived it.

09:00 – 10:00

Wally Funk’s Race for Space; The Extraordinary Story of a Female Aviation Pioneer

Take a seat in LIVE Space to hear about the Mercury 13 programme and Wally’s amazing offbeat odyssey, with host Sue Nelson.

11:00 – 11:30 and 13:00 – 13:30 LIVE Space

Book Signing

We will have copies of Wally Funk’s Race for Space; The Extraordinary Story of a Female Aviation Pioneer for sale, which you can get personalised and signed by Wally Funk and Sue Nelson.

  • Breakfast tickets are available in advance for £15 per adult and £12 per child (see above)
  • Entry to the LIVE Space talks are free to all day ticket holders
  • The book can be purchased on the day from our shop (a receipt will be provided to get your book signed on the day). Please note, Sue and Wally will not be signing any other items on the day.

11:30 – 12:00 and 13:30 – 14:00

Wally Funk is an American aviator and Goodwill Ambassador.

Funk was one of the Mercury 13. She was the first female air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, the first civilian flight instructor at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and the first Federal Aviation Agency inspector.

Sue Nelson is an award-winning science journalist, producer and broadcaster.

A former BBC TV science correspondent and Radio 4 presenter, Sue makes short films on space missions for the European Space Agency and co-presents the Space Boffins podcast, whose guests have included astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Eileen Collins, Tim Peake and Helen Sharman.

Sue’s extensive broadcasting career has taken her from rocket launches in South America to driving a lunar buggy in London alongside Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the Moon. Her 2016 documentary ‘Women with the Right Stuff’, on the history of women in space, won a New York Festival International Radio Program Award..

Wally Funk’s Race for Space; The Extraordinary Story of a Female Aviation Pioneer

by Sue Nelson

The inspirational story of a female pilot who led the way for women in space and never gave up on a dream.

In this offbeat odyssey, journalist and fellow space buff Sue Nelson travels with Wally, now approaching her eightieth birthday, as she races to make her giant leap – before it’s too late.

Covering their travels across the United States and Europe – taking in NASA’s mission control in Houston and Spaceport America in New Mexico, where Wally’s ride to 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 Wörner, Director General of the European Space Agency

 

 

 

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