Every single astronaut during the 1960s was male. 13 women, dubbed “The Mercury 13,” wanted to change that. In 1960, a NASA doctor, developing stress tests for astronauts wanted to see if women could handle the same rigorous tests.
13 former Air Force pilots took part in the program. It consisted of both mental and physical tests. Compared to the men, the women performed better in every category. The program began to run out of resources, so the tests on women were eliminated. The military saw no point in funding it, since NASA wasn’t going to let women in space. In order to become an astronaut in 1960, you had to be an experienced jet pilot. The women weren’t qualified, since the military banned women from flying after WWII.
Despite being capable and ready, none of the Mercury 13 made it to space. Members of the group lobbied in Washington to become astronauts but never succeeded. They did, however, open the door for other women.
Since 1983, America has sent dozens of women up into space. If it wasn’t for the bravery and sacrifices of the Mercury 13, women may have never made it to space.