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The 'Mercury 13' women who were ready for space:

• By Sheila Flynn

As the US space program developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Dr Randy Lovelace performed medical evaluations on potential male astronauts for NASA

Lovelace believed strongly in having a group of female astronauts, as well, his daughter says in new Netflix film Mercury 13; he began a privately-funded program to evaluate women and invited skilled female pilots

Thirteen women made the cut after vigorous testing (and often tested better than the men) - but the program was axed amid a culture of sexism

The determined women were undeterred and took their case to Congress - 'one of the first moments in the burgeoning women's movement,' director says

Both revered astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, and famed female pilot Jacqueline Cochran testified that women had no place in space

Cochran had previously lobbied to train as an astronaut herself and helped finance the program; the women were crushed and shocked at her turnaround and lack of support

Surviving Mercury 13 members and the relatives of some of the late pilots share their stories in the new film, expressing their love of flying and frustration when women were barred from training

One pilot, Wally Funk, now 78 years old, says in the documentary that she still dreams of space 


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