I had never heard of the Women in Space Program before, but apparently, after the Soviets sent Valentina Tereshkova into space, there was actually an effort to train American women as astronauts.
The participants of the Women in Space Program experienced tremendous success. “Nineteen women enrolled in WISP, undergoing the same grueling tests administered to the male Mercury astronauts,” Brandon Keim wrote in 2009. “Thirteen of them — later dubbed the Mercury 13 — passed ‘with no medical reservations,’ a higher graduation rate than the first male class. The top four women scored as highly as any of the men.”
The graduates were Geraldyn “Jerrie” Cobb, Wally Funk, Irene Leverton, Myrtle “K” Cagle, Jane B. Hart, Gene Nora Stumbough, Jerri Sloan, Rhea Hurrle, Sarah Gorelick, Bernice “B” Trimble Steadman, Jan Dietrich, Marion Dietrich, and Jean Hixson, called the “Mercury 13”.
I never heard of them before. They didn’t go into space, either. What happened?
Well, there were some revoltingly sexist attitudes at NASA.
In fact, one NASA official who declined to give his name to a reporter, said it made him “sick to his stomach” to think of women in space. Another called Tereshkova’s flight “a publicity stunt.”
A few did think of one use for women in space: “improving crew morale”. They nixed that because “such a situation might create interpersonal tensions far more dynamic than the sexual tensions it would release”. Yeah, they went there: the one thing a woman astronaut might be good for is getting her male colleagues off during long space flights.
So they come up with a lovely catch to prevent well-qualified women from joining the space program.
For a short while, it seemed that their quest to fly might advance. In 1962, the women were scheduled to continue testing at the Naval School of Aviation Medicine in Pensacola, Florida, but NASA declined to support their visit. Without official backing, the Navy canceled the trip. Cobb tried to save the program, flying to Washington and testifying before Congress. But NASA officials, John Glenn among them, told the Congressmen that women couldn’t be astronauts because they hadn’t flown jets, which were only available to the military, which also barred women.
This argument apparently proved persuasive and the Mercury 13 never got another chance to make their case for space, even after Tereshkova’s record-setting flight.
Would you believe I got a comment from a Thunderf00t acolyte on youtube just this morning?
FEMINISM IS A NON ISSUE. WOMEN ALREEEEEEEEADY HAVE EQUAL RIGHTS IN THE WEST. NO MORE NEED FOR FEMINISM IN THE WEST.
Nice to know these problems have all gone away already.