Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream
Tanya Lee Stone
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
They had the right stuff. They defied the prejudices of the time. And they blazed a trail for generations of women to follow.
What does it take to be an astronaut? Excellence at flying, courage, intelligence, resistance to stress, top physical shape — any checklist would include these. But when America created NASA in 1958, there was another unspoken rule: you had to be a man. Here is the tale of thirteen women who proved that they were not only as tough as the toughest man but also brave enough to challenge the government. They were blocked by prejudice, jealousy, and the scrawled note of one of the most powerful men in Washington. But even though the Mercury 13 women did not make it into space, they did not lose, for their example empowered young women to take their place in the sky, piloting jets and commanding space capsules. ALMOST ASTRONAUTS is the story of thirteen true pioneers of the space age.
Mommy’s Going to the Moon! An Invitation to the Party Some women were following Cobb’s story with more than a passing interest. “When I was twenty-one, I saw Jerrie Cobb in Life magazine, training to be an astronaut, and said, ‘Whoa, I’ve got to do that.’” Wally Funk sat down and wrote a letter to Lovelace. It got her a well-deserved invitation to join the party. Funk was a flying instructor and already had 3,000 hours in the air. Myrtle “K” Cagle learned about Lovelace’s program in a similar
was no need to consider sending women into space, since they had not been properly tested. Case closed. Americans who wrote private letters to NASA asking what the official word was regarding women in the space program were answered with the reply that there simply was no program for women at the current time. NASA and the navy had sidestepped the problem for the time being. But Lovelace was faced with a difficult dilemma. However much he thought that women could sit in the pilot’s seat of space
(Previous page) Mission specialist Sally Ride on the space shuttle Challenger ’s middeck The media was reflecting how women were starting to be seen in the real world. And in the real world, the women’s liberation movement was in full swing. Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique, published in 1963, had become a bestseller. The National Organization for Women was growing in strength and power. And another force to be reckoned with, Gloria Steinem, had joined the women’s movement. Steinem
Astronauts.” New York Times, March 16, 1962. 126 SOURCES “Women Secretly Trained as U.S. Astronauts in 1960s.” CNN, June 23, 2003. “Would-Be Female Astronauts Honored by Wisconsin University.” Aero-News Network, May 10, 2007. VIDEO In Search of History: Mercury 13: The Secret Astronauts. A&E Television, 1998. The History Channel. James, Sara. Weekend Magazine, Dateline NBC. Jennings, Peter. “A Closer Look: Beyond the Horizon.” ABC news report, October 26, 1998. Leave It to Beaver. Episode
Earliest (WISE), 13–15 Woman in Space program, 11, 15–16, 36 Cochran against, 70–75 congressional hearings on, 66–70, 73–82 testing for, 16–20, 35–43 women equality for, 69, 96, 105, 108–109 fighter pilots, 109–111 stereotypes of, 11–13, 20, 54 on television, 27–29, 95–96, 101 testing, astronaut, 11–43 Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), 2, 9, 10, 21, 39, 69, 74, 75, 88 Women’s Advisory Committee on Aviation, 93 Women’s Army Corps (WAC), 9 women’s liberation movement, 96 World War II, 2, 9–10,