NASA Fellow Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLAT) - 1960
Written and Edited by
NASA Fellow Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLAT)
Allison, Rhea H.
Funk, Mary W.
Gorelick, Sarah L.
Steadman, Bernice T.
Stumbough, Gene N.
NASA Fellow Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLAT) Background
In 1960, NASA began a research program to determine whether or not women could qualify as astronauts. The first official astronaut draft had been opened to men only, but NASA desired scientific data on how women would perform under similar conditions.
A total of 25 female pilots were invited by NASA to undergo the exact same physical and psychological evaluations as those endured by male astronauts who had actually qualified for the Mercury program. Of those invited, 13 women passed the tests and were enrolled in an "unofficial" astronaut training program.
These "Fellow Lady Astronaut Trainees" were subjected to many of the same tests, evaluations and training as their male counterparts. But, these women were never officially declared astronaut candidates, nor were they scheduled for space flights.
NASA management reportedly believed that damaging negative publicity would be generated if a woman were injured or killed while training for, or participating in, a space flight. It was also believed that the participation of female astronauts in the early space program would divert scarce resources and attention away from male astronauts.
As a result, the initial NASA training of female astronauts ceased in 1963, and the program quickly faded into history. Ironically, the same year this NASA training of female astronauts ceased, the Soviet Union launched the first woman, Valentina V. Tereshkova, into space.
For more information visit Mercury13.com the official website of the FLAT trainees
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