Sue Mercury Sue Lyndon Biography & Facts
The Mercury 13 were thirteen American women who, as part of a privately funded program, successfully underwent the same physiological screening tests as had the astronauts selected by NASA on April 9, 1959, for Project Mercury. The term was coined in 1995 by Hollywood producer James Cross as a comparison to the Mercury Seven name given to the selected male astronauts. The Mercury 13 women were not part of NASA's astronaut program, never flew in space as part of a NASA mission, and never met as a whole group.
In the 1960s some of these women were among those who lobbied the White House and Congress to have women included in the astronaut program. They testified before a congressional committee in 1962. Clare Boothe Luce wrote an article for LIFE magazine publicizing the women and criticizing NASA for its failure to include women as astronauts.
One of the thirteen, Wally Funk, was launched into space in a suborbital flight aboard Blue Origin's July 20, 2021 New Shepard 4 mission Flight 16, making her the oldest woman to go into space at age 82.
When NASA first planned to put people in space, they believed that the best candidates would be pilots, submarine crews or members of expeditions to the Antarctic or Arctic areas. They also thought people with more extreme sports backgrounds, such as parachuting, climbing, deep sea diving, etc. would excel in the program.NASA knew that numerous people would apply for this opportunity and testing would be expensive. President Dwight Eisenhower believed that military test pilots would make the best astronauts and had already passed rigorous testing and training within the government. This greatly altered the testing requirements and shifted the history of who was chosen to go to space originally.
William Randolph Lovelace II, former Flight Surgeon and later, chairman of the NASA Special Advisory Committee on Life Science, helped develop the tests for NASA's male astronauts and became curious to know how women would do taking the same tests. In 1960, Lovelace and Air Force Brig. General Don Flickinger invited Geraldyn "Jerrie" Cobb, known as an accomplished pilot, to undergo the same rigorous challenges as the men.Lovelace became interested in beginning this program because he was a medical doctor who had done the NASA physical testing for the official program. He was able to fund the unofficial program, and invited up to 25 women to come and take the physical tests. Lovelace was interested in the way that women's bodies would react to being in space. Although the program was privately funded, the program was hidden from the public eye. The Mercury 13 were not reported in any major publications, but they were not unknown.
Cobb was the first American woman (and the only one of the Mercury 13) to undergo and pass all three phases of testing. Lovelace and Cobb recruited 19 more women to take the tests, financed by the husband of world-renowned aviator Jacqueline Cochran. Thirteen of the women passed the same tests as had the Mercury 7. Some were disqualified due to brain or heart anomalies. The results were announced at the second International Symposium on Submarine and Space Medicine in Stockholm, Sweden on August 18, 1960.
All of the candidates were accomplished pilots; Lovelace and Cobb reviewed the records of more than 700 women pilots in order to select candidates. They did not invite anyone with fewer than 1,000 hours of flight experience. Some of the women may have been recruited through the Ninety-Nines, a women pilot's organization of which Cobb was also a member. Some women responded after hearing about the opportunity through friends.This group of women, whom Jerrie Cobb called the First Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLATs), accepted the challenge to be tested for a research program.Wally Funk wrote an article saying that, given the secrecy of the testing, not all of the women candidates knew each other throughout their years of preparation. It was not until 1994 that ten of the Mercury 13 were introduced to each other for the first time.
Because doctors did not know all the conditions which astronauts might encounter in space, they had to guess at what tests might be required. These ranged from typical X-rays and general body physicals to the atypical; for instance, the women had to swallow a rubber tube in order to test the level of their stomach acids. Doctors tested the reflexes in the ulnar nerve of the woman's forearms by using electric shock. To induce vertigo, ice water was shot into their ears, freezing the inner ear so doctors could time how quickly they recovered. The women were pushed to exhaustion while riding specially weighted stationary bicycles, in order to test their respiration. They subjected themselves to many more invasive and uncomfortable tests.
In the end, thirteen women passed the same Phase I physical examinations that the Lovelace Foundation had developed as part of NASA's astronaut selection process. Those thirteen women were:
Marion Dietrich, twin of Janet Dietrich
Sarah Gorelick (later Ratley)
Jane "Janey" Briggs Hart
Gene Nora Stumbough (later Jessen)
Jerri Sloan (later Truhill)
Bernice SteadmanAt 41, Jane Hart was the oldest candidate, and was the mother of eight. Wally Funk was the youngest, at 23. Marion and Janet Dietrich were twin sisters.
A few women took additional tests. Jerrie Cobb, Rhea Hurrle, and Wally Funk went to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for Phase II testing, consisting of an isolation tank test and psychological evaluations. Because of other family and job commitments, not all of the women were able to take these tests. Once Cobb had passed the Phase III tests (advanced aeromedical examinations using military equipment and jet aircraft), the group prepared to gather in Pensacola, Florida at the Naval School of Aviation Medicine to follow suit. Two of the women quit their jobs in order to be able to attend. A few days before they were to report, however, the women received telegrams abruptly canceling the Pensacola testing. Without an official NASA request to run the tests, the United States Navy would not allow the use of its facilities for such an unofficial project.Funk reportedly also completed the third phase of testing, but this claim is misleading. Following NASA's cancellation of the tests, she found ways to continue being tested. She did complete most of the Phase III tests, but only by individual actions, not as part of a specific program. Cobb passed all the training exercises, ranking in the top 2% of all astronaut candidates of both genders.Regardless of the women's achievements in testing, NASA continued to exclude women as astronaut candidates for years. Despite the Soviet advancement to put the first woman in space in 1963 after Yuri Gagarin's orbit in 1961, the men who testified at the hearing were u.... Discover the Sue Mercury Sue Lyndon popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Sue Mercury Sue Lyndon books.