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Happy Ada Lovelace Day–Celebrating the Mercury 13 March 24, 2010

Posted by twinsunplus1 in Uncategorized.

The space race has just begun.  NASA is training a group of men, the Mercury 7 to fly into space.   They must pass rigourous physical training.   At the same time, Dr. Charles Lovelace begins a similar training program although it was privately funded, for women.  Twenty-five women the program and thirteen will complete it. They are: Jerrie Cobb, Bernice Steadman, Janey Hart, Jerri Truhill, Rhea Woltman, Sarah Ratley, Jan and Marion Dietrich, Myrtle Cagle, Irene Leverton, Gene Nora Jessen, Jean Hixson, and Wally Funk.

Women in the US are, at the time, considered the weaker sex.   The women, who became known as the Mercury 13, passed the same rigorous flight standards and tests as the men who eventually flew in space.   All of the women were recognized as excellent pilots and many had recieved awards, prizes, and trophies before heading into the astronaut training program. 

Although it was a private program, Dr. Lovelace believed he could gather a group of women, prove they could pass the strenous testing just as the men did.  With these results, he hoped to create a team of female astronauts.   The Navy decided against pursing the program any further and the women were told not to report for further training.  They appealed to Congress for further funding, but were denied.

The work, determination, and drive of the women would pave the way for women to enter NASA’s space program in 1978, for Sally Ride to become the first US women in space in 1983, and in 1995 for Eileen Collins to become the first female pilot in space.  Despite not flying in space, the women proved that female astronauts would be as capable and hardy as men. 

Bravo and thank you to the Mercury 13 women.   As a young girl, I remember Sally Ride shooting into space.   One of my dreams was to become an astronaut and be the first women to land on Mars.   I have no doubt women will continue to make strides and impact NASA and further space exploration.  

If you’d like to hear some of the women share the experiences about the training, visit NPR to hear their stories.   You can also visit the Mercury 13 website to read the individual biographies all the women and read how the women had been recognized and honored. 

A little history about Ada Lovelace Day.  Ada Lovelace is thought to be first person to write an algorithm for Charles Babages analytical machine–the precursor to the computor.   She is considered to be the first computer programmer and her work is important in understanding the history of the computer.    Ada Lovelace Day began as a way to honor women in science, math, and technology.   It is a great way to showcase women of all ages and times who have promoted and furthered the women’s movement in a traditionally male dominated area.  If you’d like to learn more about Ada Lovelace, check out the wiki entry:Ada Lovelace wiki.

Better get back to the natives,



1. Happy Ada Lovelace Day! « Land o' Sunshine - March 24, 2010

[…] a book on the Mercury 13.   You’ll need to head over to my education technology blog for the full Ada Lovelace post, but suffice it to say, women were involved in the space race LONG before Sally […]

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