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Jeff Bezos has picked an 82-year-old female aerospace pioneer to go into space with him.

Wally Funk, one of the 13 women who passed NASA's astronaut training programme in the 1960s, will join Amazon's billionaire founder Jeff Bezos. Later this month, his rocket company Blue Origin will launch the first crewed flight into space.

Funk, 82, will be the oldest person ever to journey into space, according to a statement released by Blue Origin on Thursday.

In a video interview on the company's website, Funk stated, "I didn't believe I'd ever get to go up."

Funk, a 21-year-old pilot at the time, was the youngest of the 13 women who had completed the same stringent tests as the Mercury astronauts. Seven male astronauts participated in NASA's programme that launched the first Americans into space in 1961 and 1963, but were denied the opportunity to become astronauts due to their gender.

She was the first female flying instructor at a US military base and the first woman to work for the National Transportation Safety Board as an air safety investigator.

She will travel to suborbital space with Bezos' brother, Mark, and the winner of an auction onboard the New Shepard rocket as it soars more than 62 miles (100 kilometres) above Earth. Before the pressurised passenger capsule descends to Earth using parachutes, the occupants will experience a few minutes of weightlessness and be able to marvel at the planet's curvature through viewing windows.

On July 5, Bezos, the world's richest man, will stand down as chief executive of Amazon.com Inc. He's been fighting with fellow billionaires Elon Musk and Richard Branson to be the first to travel into space on his own rocket.

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