There was a time when becoming an astronaut was the real dream of many Americans and not just a childhood whim. With all of the talk about putting the first person in space, all of the astronauts being sent up in rockets and landing on the moon were men. But there were plenty of women who wanted a chance to explore the great expanse of space.
‘Mercury 13’ is a documentary coming to Netflix which tells the story of a secret program that tested female pilots for an opportunity to be part of the Mercury program that started in 1958 with the hopes of sending a man in space. NASA wasn’t interested in actually sending women to space, despite the fact that some of them performed better than the men on the required tests.
David Sington (‘The Fear of 13’) and Heather Walsh directed the documentary that explores the women who were fully qualified to head into space but were denied entry into the space program simply because of their gender. The documentary looks frustrating, but at least these women are having their story told today, and maybe they will inspire women to seek out careers in aviation and science in order to revive the space program someday.
Today, NASA has evolved to include women in all levels of their program with 60 women being sent into space to date. But it’s a shame that these women never realized their dream of going to space when they were in their prime. Check out the official synopsis for the documentary:
‘Mercury 13’ is a remarkable story of the women who were tested for spaceflight in 1961 before their dreams were dashed in being the first to make the trip beyond Earth. NASA’s ‘man in space’ program, dubbed ‘Project Mercury’ began in 1958. The men chosen – all military test pilots – became known as The Mercury 7. But away from the glare of the media, behind firmly closed doors, female pilots were also screened. Thirteen of them passed and, in some cases, performed better than the men. They were called the Mercury 13 and had the ‘right stuff’ but were, unfortunately, the wrong gender. Underneath the obsession of the space race that gripped America, the women were aviation pioneers who emerged thirsty for a new frontier, but whose time would have to wait. The film tells the definitive story of thirteen truly remarkable women who reached for the stars but were ahead of their time.
‘Mercury 13’ will debut on Netflix on April 20. Watch the trailer below!