Women in space: The Mercury 13
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Author:  DanHenderson [ Mon May 13, 2013 10:27 am ]
Post subject:  Women in space: The Mercury 13

I had no clue that women had been considered for the Mercury program. Here's an article I enjoyed on the topic.

Author:  beamjockey [ Mon May 13, 2013 1:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Women in space: The Mercury 13

DanHenderson wrote:
I had no clue that women had been considered for the Mercury program. Here's an article I enjoyed on the topic.
It's a story of considerable historical interest. There was a small effort to run medical tests on female aviators similar to some of the testing of male Mercury astronauts.

But by no stretch of the imagination could it truthfully be said that women had been considered as pilots for Project Mercury. In retelling the story, there is a strong temptation to exaggerate the significance of Dr. Lovelace's research.
DanHenderson wrote:
“Don’t believe everything you see on the Internet.” –Abraham Lincoln

Wise words, from a wise President.

Here's Henry Spencer, whom I consider a trustworthy commentator on spaceflight history:
A group of top female pilots were given many of the same medical tests the Mercury astronauts got. They did well on the tests.

However, they were not being tested *for* the Mercury program. Those women, and some of the people testing them, had hopes... but in fact there was never any serious consideration of flying women in Mercury.

They were physically in excellent condition and had plenty of flying experience. But they did *not* have the test-pilot credentials that the Mercury astronauts did (because that required starting with a military fast-jet background, which was impossible for women then), and at the time, that was an absolute disqualification.

It wasn't until many years later that the gradual relaxation of NASA specs (there weren't that many *men* who could meet the Mercury requirements), plus the slow infiltration of women into piloting jobs on big/fast/complex aircraft, combined to qualify some women as pilot-astronaut candidates. Before that time, any female astronaut chosen for a pilot job -- meaning any pre-Skylab astronaut job -- would have flown as a token woman, not as a fully-qualified equal of the men. Heaven knows, NASA has engaged in some tokenism along the way, but never (that I know of) among the pilots.

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