Kuiper beams with job in a vintage airplane trainer.

First Lady Astronaut Trainees

Kuiper celebrates International Women’s Day with a visit to the International Women’s Air and Space Museum @women_of_the_air in Cleveland, Ohio. Thank you so much for letting us visit and for giving Kuiper his first flying lesson. He can’t wait to get his pilots license. ?

The Mercury Seven were the “original” NASA astronauts. You’ve probably heard their names before (John Glenn, Alan Shepard, etc.), but did you know that in 1961, 13 highly qualified women pilots (each w/average 4.5k hours flight time) underwent the same health testing as the Mercury 7?

Jerrie Cobb, pilot w/multiple world records, was first to complete all 3 phases of testing. In 1962, 2 days before the other 12 women were scheduled to continue (3 of whom had quit their jobs), the program was abruptly canceled. It had never been officially been endorsed by NASA, and the Navy decided to revoke use of its testing facilities.

One of the 12 women, Jane Hart, was a senator’s wife. Hart and Cobb were heckin’ angry, not only re: the testing but also because NASA’s requirements for astronauts prevented any woman from qualifying. Women were not allowed to fly in the US military (unlike several other countries at the time) and military test pilot experience was required. They wrote Pres. Kennedy and visited VP Lyndon Johnson to no avail. Nevertheless, they persisted. They were eventually asked to testify in a Congressional hearing regarding astronaut qualifications.

The transcript is available online; I’ll put link in story. Hart & Cobb were unfailingly professional. Astronaut John Glenn also testified. He said, “I think this gets back to the way our social order is organized, really. It is just a fact. The men go off and fight the wars and fly the airplanes and come back and help design and build and test them. The fact that women are not in this field is a fact of our social order. It may be undesirable.” ??

Less than a year later, Russia launched the first woman into space. It would take the US another 20 years.

Original post: https://www.instagram.com/p/Buv6QqKD5nf/

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