The Mercury 13

An exceptional group of women…

Our View From Iowa

Have you ever heard of the Mercury 13? I hadn’t until recently. While visiting an air and space museum, I noticed an exhibit on this amazing group of aerospace pioneers.

In 1959 NASA began the process of identifying the nation’s first astronauts. From an applicant pool of more than 500 men, extensive physical and mental exams led to selecting the first seven astronauts. All of them were military pilots, and they were known as the “Mercury 7.”

A doctor who helped develop the tests for those men, Dr. W. Randolph Lovelace, wondered how women would perform on the same tests. In 1960, he began a study to find out. He invited a noted female pilot, Geraldyn “Jerrie” Cobb, to participate in his study. After she passed all three phases of testing, other women pilots were invited into the study.

According to Wally Funk, one of those selected, “The women were to be under 35 years of…

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12 thoughts on “The Mercury 13

  1. Thank you for posting about these women. I have heard of them. Currently I am reading a book called, “Women in the Field”, about women naturalists from the Victorian era mostly. These women faced the same thing, struggling to receive recognition for their accomplishments….And don’t get me started on women artists being ignored! 🙂

    • Yes, it continues. There was a recent article about publishing. A woman had used a pseudonym when submitting to publishers. When she called herself “George,” the interest she received was high. When she went by her own name, “Catherine,” she got almost no feedback. For the same material. Thanks for taking a look.

  2. Wow … I didn’t know this … fascinating …. and a great part of the story – thus tribute to where the role of women in space started.

    FYI: Dance: The Musical starts next week.

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