My sister is in grad school right now and, in one of her classes, she has to read books of different genres and write book analyses’ on them. The other day, I walked by the kitchen table and saw this:
Which got me thinking, who are the Mercury 13 women? I’ve never heard of them, but they sound like some awesome ladies! Here’s what I found out!
Back in 1960, William Randolph Lovelace II (the creator of the tests used to determine whether or not a man could become an astronaut) wondered how women would fare under the same tests. Together with Geraldyn “Jerrie” Cobb, they started their research.
Jerrie Cobb, gassing up the shuttle.
Cobb and Lovelace looked over 700 records of female pilots in order to find candidates and finally found 32 women who met the specifications. These women were put through rigorous and, at times, invasive tests that calculated their ability to withstand the stressors of space.
One of the M13 Women riding a stationery bike to test her endurance.
Of the 32 women tested, 13 passed the first phase of testing and were advanced to the next phase. Those women were:
Sarah Gorelick (later Ratley)
Janey Hart (née Briggs)
Rhea Hurrle (later Allison, then Woltman)
Gene Nora Stumbough (later Jessen)
Jerri Sloan (née Hamilton, later Truhill)
Bernice Steadman (née Trimble)
Eight of the surviving Mercury 13 Women
Because of family commitments, not all women were able to travel to Oklahoma City, OK for additional testing. Some of the women were later asked to go to Pensacola, FL for more testing (Phase III) but received a telegram a few days before the start date, informing them that the training had been cancelled.
Immediately, Jerrie Cobb flew to D.C. to lobby for the right to resume the testing. However, she was met with much resistance. After committee hearings and even letters written to the President of the United States, the program was never reinstated. Though some may see Jerrie Cobb’s fight as lost, it paved the way for future female astronauts like Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.
So kudos to you, Mercury 13 women, for having The Right Stuff!