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A long wait | 82-year-old trailblazing pilot will join Jeff Bezos on trip to space

In the 1960s, she wasn't allowed to be an astronaut because she's a woman. Now, Wally Funk's dreams are coming true, thanks to Blue Origin.

VAN HORN, Texas — The countdown is on to the Texas takeoff. Billionaire Jeff Bezos is set to blast off into space in his own rocket on Tuesday morning. Bezos is bringing along a three-person crew.

RELATED: How to watch Blue Origin's New Shepard launch

One of the crew members has been waiting for the opportunity to go to space for a little longer than the others.

That would be 82-year-old Wally Funk.

RELATED: No, Branson, Bezos and their crews aren’t the first space tourists in history

In the 1960s, Funk was not allowed to be an astronaut because she's a woman. Now, she's getting her chance to see the world from space.

"I've waited a long time, but I've dreamt a long time to get to go up," Funk said.

To fully understand what it means to her, we have to go back six decades when Funk, from Grapevine, Texas, was on the brink of becoming the first female American astronaut.

She is one of the most decorated pilots in American flight history and she earned her pilot's license when she was 17. So, why wasn't she allowed to go up into space?

"The only thing a woman needs to compete in a man's world is ability," Funk said.

Before Funk's aviation career really took off, she was a member of the Mercury 13, a group of women selected to train and become astronauts in 1962. At the time, American astronauts, which were all men, had to pass grueling mental and physical exams. Funk excelled at those exams.

"They don't understand. We could do just as good a job as the guys," Funk said.

She was clearly qualified to be an astronaut but wasn't allowed because she's a woman.

Now, it's 2021.

"You're described as the oldest," Gayle King said to Funk during a recent interview before the launch.

"But I feel 24," Funk said.

After decades of dreaming, Funk's dream is coming true.

"When I'm up in space to be able to do summersaults and tumble and do anything I wanted to do. I just want to get up there and see the earth," Funk said.

At 82, she will become the oldest person to ever travel to space, righting a wrong not a moment too soon. Her's will likely be a story that future generations will read about in history books.

The flight takes off Tuesday at 8 a.m. KHOU 11's coverage will begin at 6 a.m. and you can watch the launch live on "CBS This Morning."

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