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Even Jeff Bezos critics have to love that Wally Funk finally got her spaceflight

July 21, 2021, 12:46 PM UTC

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The Norwegian women’s beach handball team is fined for wearing shorts, Seventh Generation’s new CEO aims to reboot green cleaning in the era of COVID-19, and Wally Funk finally got her spaceflight. Have a fantastic Wednesday.

– Blast off. There was a lot for Jeff Bezos critics to dislike about the billionaire’s 11-minute trip to space yesterday.

The flashy stunt felt out of step with the current global COVID crisis that’s killing thousands a day, ravaging economies, and creating a new class of poor. It didn’t help that Bezos thanked Amazon workers—many of whom have campaigned for higher wages and better working conditions—for “paying” for the mission they had zero stake in. He also undercut any argument that the trip could result in an immediate societal good by admitting that a possible application—sending “polluting industry” to space—was “decades” away from fruition. And then there was the comically “anthropomorphic” shape of the rocket that was additional ammunition for those who said the flight was nothing more than supersonic joy ride for the world’s richest man who has found no better way to spend his billions, despite the planet being in a world of pain. (It should be noted that after the spaceflight, Bezos gave $200 million to chef José Andrés and CNN commentator and social entrepreneur Van Jones who will award the money to charities and nonprofits of their choice.)

But even the haters didn’t have to look far to find a storyline worth rooting for. In addition to Bezos, his brother Mark, and Dutch student Oliver Daemen, 82-year-old Wally Funk, a flight instructor, rode in the Blue Origin capsule, fulfilling her lifelong dream to go to space.

Sixty years ago, Funk was among a group of women who underwent psychological and physical screening to test whether women were fit for space travel. She and her peers, known as the Mercury 13, passed many of the same tests as their male counterparts, but the program was canceled in 1962 when the government said women couldn’t use military facilities for training. She applied to NASA four times, but was always turned down.

Bezos invited Funk to accompany him on his space mission earlier this month, saying, “No one has waited longer.” On Tuesday, she finally got to blast off.

“I’ve been waiting a long time to finally get up there, and I’ve done a lot of astronaut training through the world—Russia, America—and I could always beat the guys on what they were doing because I was always stronger and I’ve always done everything on my own,” Funk said after the flight. She says she’s ready to do it again.

“We had a great time,” Funk said. “It was wonderful.”

The first era of spaceflight denied Funk her dream; at least the second one, for all its faults, fulfilled it.

Claire Zillman
claire.zillman@fortune.com
@clairezillman

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Kristen Bellstrom

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Short story. You might have the seen the hubbub over this one on your social feeds: Norway’s women’s beach handball team was fined by the European Handball Federation because players wore shorts, not bikini bottoms, in a recent match. The international body overseeing the sport requires women to wear bikini bottoms that "cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg” and with sides no longer than four inches. Male players, meanwhile, can wear shorts as long as four inches above their knees. New York Times

- Becca bows out. Paralympics swimmer Becca Meyers, a favorite to bring home the gold, has canceled plans to compete in Tokyo after being told she can't bring a personal care assistant because of COVID restrictions. Meyers, who is deaf and blind, says the Games organizers are failing to take into account the needs of athletes. NPR

 - Getting real. A final piece of Olympic news since this one is actually fun: in this experimentation with augmented reality and interactive video from the Washington Post (which has been doing really creative Olympics coverage), you can see Olympic climber Brooke Raboutou scale a wall in front of your nose, or watch as surfer Caroline Marks take you through her tricks step-by-step.

- Clean up job. Fortune's Beth Kowitt talks to Alison Whritenour, the new CEO of green cleaning brand Seventh Generation. Whritenour, who's been with the company for almost a decade, takes the helm at a time when COVID-19 has juiced the sale of cleaning products, but also caused some consumers to abandon natural options in favor of their more traditional counterparts. Here's her plan to woo them back: Fortune

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Katrina Alcorn, most recently of Autodesk, has joined IBM as general manager, IBM Design. Compass Pathways has appointed Danielle Schlosser, formerly of Verily Life Sciences, as SVP, Clinical Innovation.Yasi Baiani is joining Cleo as VP of Product. She was most recently head of Teladoc Health’s mental health product. BrightDrop has hired Shaluinn Fullove, formerly Lyft’s global head of people for Autonomous Technology and Rideshare Platforms, as chief people officer. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Generation gap. The Democratic primary race in Ohio’s 11th District—between Nina Turner, who is best known as Bernie Sanders’ campaign co-chairwoman, and Shontel Brown, the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party chairwoman, is shaping up as a referendum on who will control the future of the party: "impatient young activists" or "cautious older voters." New York Times

- Partnering up? ViacomCBS chairman Shari Redstone reportedly met with Comcast CEO Brian Roberts to talk about a possible streaming partnership for international markets. Both companies are gearing up for a big global expansion of their streamers in a very crowded marketplace. WSJ

- Weinstein goes West. After more than a year of delays, Harvey Weinstein, who is serving a 23-year sentence for felony sex crimes in New York, has been extradited to California to face additional sex-crimes charges. WSJ 

ON MY RADAR

Female Olympians needed to train longer to beat Tokyo’s heat The Verge

America needs to talk about miscarriage Vox 

What’s going on with fashion darling Garance Doré? Ensemble Magazine

PARTING WORDS

"After this, I don’t have to say, ‘Don’t put me in your box.’ The music will say it for you.”

-Ledisi on her new album, a tribute to Nina Simone

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