Seniors in Metro Detroit celebrate historic spaceflight

Struggle former generations of women faced recounted

Seniors in Rochester Hills discuss historic spaceflight

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. – Jeff Bezos blasted into space Tuesday on his rocket company’s first flight with people on board, becoming the second billionaire in just over a week to ride his own spacecraft.

The Amazon founder was accompanied by a hand-picked group: his brother, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands and Wally Funk, an 82-year-old aviation pioneer from Texas — the youngest and oldest to ever fly in space.

She is the oldest person to go into space and has broken barriers.

Local 4 News visited Bellbrook Assisted Living in Rochester Hills where seniors are still on cloud nine.

It just took 10 minutes to leave the earth, hang out at the edge of space, experience weightlessness and then return safely.

Judy Bradley, 80, and 86-year-old Joann Smith are over the moon with excitement.

“I just see her getting around like she does, it is so inspiring,” said Bradley.

Smith is also inspired by her.

“I was so encouraged by her energy,” said Smith.

Funk was in the human space flight program at NASA. She trained and reportedly outscored John Glenn on some of the rigors of the Mercury 13 program.

She has trained astronauts, yet when she could have gone to space, she didn’t, not because she wasn’t qualified, but because she was a woman.

By the time women were accepted to slip the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God she was deemed too old.

It is a slap in the face to Smith who faced her own struggles to serve as pastor of a church.

“Women didn’t have choices back then,” said Smith.

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About the Authors:

Paula Tutman is an Emmy award-winning journalist who came to Local 4 in 1992. She's a Peace Corps alum who spent her early childhood living in Sierra Leone, West Africa and Tanzania and East Africa.

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.