Mercury 13 (2018) Movie Script

Most harmful behavior is based in fear.
Protecting ones perceived position
in society
protecting ones territory,
or ones physical well-being.
But progress is inevitable.
This is Apollo Control.
The situation is go for landing.
Repeat again, we are go for landing.
There was, at that time,
a lot of prejudice.
Women astronauts. What a ridiculous idea.
Youre five by, Jim. Were sailing free.
Okay, Jim. How do you read? Over.
I read you loud and clear.
You sound beautiful.
I think we all know why it didnt happen.
Okay. 300 feet.
Fifteen down.
Take over, Sarah.
It was a good old boy network.
And there was no such thing
as a good old girl network.
Okay. Fuel is at ten percent.
I guess we did it so well,
they didnt like that. So
Here comes the shadow.
Perfect place over here. I see
a couple of big boulders, not too bad.
I still didnt tell people
that I wanted to be an astronaut.
I was just gonna do it.
Youre leveled off. Let her on down.
Okay. Seven, six percent. Pretty fast.
Contact. Stop!
Someone has to start the fight
to change the opinion.
Someone has to lead the way.
Thats one small leap for a woman
another giant step for mankind.
- How we doing?
- Great.
Good to see you.
- Hi, honey. How are you?
- Good.
- Good to see you, sweetheart.
- Thank you. Nice to see you.
- What kind of airplane do you usually fly?
- Usually a 172.
Although the last time,
I was flying in a Cherokee.
So it doesnt really matter. Im used to a
Piper from the days of my three Comanches.
- Youre the Comanche girl. I remember.
- Yeah. Low-wing Comanches.
Ive been very lucky, and Ive been able
to fly some Stearmans about once a month.
- Oh, good.
- Thats great.
Thats the airplane that I owned
when I was 20 years old out in California.
I was a very, very curious kid.
My first ride in an airplane
was at nine years of age.
And it was wonderful.
The freedom, the smell of the exhaust,
the air going over my hair.
It was me. It was part of me.
I had those wings on too.
I grew up in Minnesota.
Every day, Id see this airplane
flying overhead,
and I thought," I could do that too."
My parents didnt like that idea.
People didnt think
it was for women at all, flying.
But I knew better,
and I liked it and I did it.
I think your first solo is,
in all your flying experiences,
you feel is your greatest accomplishment.
It was the thrill of going up
and being free up there.
And youd look down
and you could get a proper perspective.
I always was very positive
about always willing to learn
something new and have a new adventure.
There was a barnstormer coming into Flint,
and they were advertising rides.
B said that, from the moment she got in
that plane and took off and looked down,
she said, "This is it.
This is what Im meant for."
This is Janeys official wedding picture.
My mother was a very well-off child
who took advantage of that
to pursue the dreams that she always held.
Seventeen. Youre right.
My first experience of flight, um,
was when I was very young.
Mother was the pilot.
And off we go, into the sky.
And Mothers very delighted
to just show her little girl
this is what you could do.
So were going higher
and higher and higher
and closer and closer to the clouds.
Im becoming a bit alarmed
because, in my mind,
these clouds are solid
and were going to crash into them,
and my mother is going to kill us.
As we get closer and closer, I said,
"Why are we going so close to the clouds?
Were gonna hit them."
And she just... She truly laughed
and said, you know, Watch this.
And away we went,
through and over the clouds.
Quite wonderful.
I still, as I lift off,
very often think, Why me, God?"
"Why did I get to do this?
I dont think I needed
a lot of encouragement.
I was raring to go.
I just, I really loved flying.
There was always
a certain amount of prejudice
about women getting into the mens fields.
But there were stories of women
making breakthroughs in aviation.
So I knew it was possible.
Shes out to break the womens
speed record: Jacqueline Cochran.
Takeoff at Detroit for the girl
who now ranks as first lady of the sky.
Women are progressing rapidly.
The womens record,
made by a ladybird of France,
was 276 miles an hour.
Jacqueline flies
17 miles an hour faster than that.
She lands, and I wonder how she looks
after flying more than 293 miles an hour.
Thats fast enough
to disarrange ones hair.
Sure enough
No, I never met Jackie Cochran.
But I can tell you a Jackie Cochran story.
I was flying into Cincinnati,
and the tower gave me
landing instructions.
And then I heard a womans voice.
She was flying a Lockheed Lodestar.
And I thought, "My word, what female pilot
flies that big old Lockheed?"
The tower called her, and they said,
you are lined up on the wrong runway.
And she said,
"Ill land on any goddamn runway I please."
And of course I thought,
"Wow, I didnt know
you could say that on the radio."
We didnt really need a reason to
invite Jacqueline Cochran to the program.
Our guest is probably
the most distinguished woman pilot
in the world today.
It seems that you soloed
at Roosevelt Field back in 1932.
- That is correct. And...
- Came in for a dead-stick landing.
Right. And it was 48 hours after
Id seen my first airplane on the ground.
How many hours of instruction
had you had when you...
Five hours and five minutes.
But youve also done very well
in the cosmetics business.
I did very well.
Course it helped to be married
to a millionaire, you admit that?
I was doing pretty well
before I got married.
Jacqueline Cochran was
an extraordinary gal.
She, uh...
She was raised in poverty in the South.
She had formed her own company.
She met Floyd Odlum, who was,
prior to the war, he was
the highest-paid CEO in the United States.
Jackie was very much of an individualist.
First woman to do this,
first woman to do that.
And Jackie wanted to be a trailblazer.
Women with wings.
At Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas,
famous flyer Jacqueline Cochran
gives her ferry pilot students
a last-minute inspection.
Then its off by plane
for graduation ceremonies.
Good-bye, Daughter.
Im working for the army now.
Jackie Cochran headed up
the WASP program during World War II,
the Womens Airforce Service Pilots,
who flew all the airplanes.
That was the first time that happened.
They flew all the military airplanes,
but they didnt go to war.
What they did is that
they provided ferrying capability.
They would pick up the aircraft
from the factories
and fly them to a point
where they would be turned over.
And these women flew these planes
with the same training, or less,
that the men had,
and they had the same safety record.
So they proved
they could fly those aircraft.
Nobody should ever tell a WASP
that flyings not a womans job.
They wouldnt believe it
any more than if it were said
a girl cant be a good flyer and a woman,
a woman at the same time.
After the war,
they didnt want to give that up.
They wouldnt give up their independence.
A lot of em stayed in aviation.
And a lot of em didnt want
to go back to the kitchen.
They wanted their freedom again.
And these WASPs really were great mentors.
They organized these air races
called the Powder Puff Derby.
The first one I flew in was 52.
You know, when youre 18,
you dont have fear,
and you dont think of it as being brave.
You think of adventures and having fun.
Because 18-year-olds think
nothing will ever happen to em.
You know, Powder Puff Derby
has a great ring to it.
And it was always great to say,
Yeah, I flew the Powder Puff Derby.
When youre at the takeoff line
and the flag drops,
you put the power to it, and you take off,
and I stayed very close to the runway
to get my speed up.
The women that you meet who are
flying in those air races are wonderful,
and theyre very inspiring.
And you make lifelong friends.
What a thrill it is to have won this 13th
Annual All-Women International Air Race.
Mary and I feel very proud of this.
Were real happy to be in Florida.
What a wonderful state you have.
The air racing was very important.
It proved the mettle. It proved that
these gals knew what they were doing.
The racing fraternity was very strong.
The bond was very strong.
On October 4, 1957,
a world-stirring event took place.
Sputnik! My word.
To see this thing going around the world.
Space was very, very exciting then.
Everybody was into this space business.
I do remember
Mothers extraordinary enthusiasm
when she knew that the Sputnik
was gonna be traversing in the sky.
She got us all out of the house and
looking up at the sky, and just, I mean,
she had grapefruit juice in her hand,
and she poured it all over herself.
She was just so excited.
How quickly it went
from just sending up Sputniks
and then sending up animals.
I think everybody was astounded
at those accomplishments.
I remember the Russians had,
at that point in time,
had succeeded in every single endeavor.
They were ahead of us.
The United States needed to catch up.
One of these seven young men
will be the first American into space.
These are the astronauts.
United States Project Mercury.
When this program started,
a lot of the military guys wanted in it.
So they developed criteria
for qualification to be an astronaut.
Each must be:
the graduate of a navy or air force
test pilot school,
1,500 hours of flight time
qualified in jet aircraft,
an engineering background,
and 511 or less.
Thirty-two candidates reported to the
Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico
for an exhaustive series
of physical examinations.
These tests were divided between those
given under normal clinical procedures
and a series used for the first time
in Project Mercury.
NASA had picked Dr. Lovelace
to set the standards for the astronauts
in the program.
So he had developed the testing,
and he had conducted the testing.
The question is,
is Dr. Lovelaces work done?
We hope to continue to participate
in the program.
I might say that all our doctors
and technicians
are a little tired right at the moment.
My father was
Dr. William Randolph Lovelace II.
He had a great smile,
but he could also be very serious.
He was a surgeon first and foremost,
but was always involved with aviation,
then aerospace medicine.
He was invited to be
head of space medicine for NASA.
That was a fun time
because the seven astronauts came to
our house for dinner almost every night.
And we were instructed
to make conversation with everyone.
So we did, and ate with them,
voted on them each night
in terms of who we liked the best,
and would tell our father
in the morning at breakfast.
It was always Scott Carpenter.
It was just an amazing time.
Theyd make fun of my father
and the tests that he made them do, and
But there was obviously respect there.
I think the tests out of Dr.
Lovelaces place in Albuquerque out there,
uh, certainly some of the tests we had
out there were the most trying.
And its rather difficult to pick one,
because if you figure how many openings
there are on the human body
and how far you can go in any one of em
You gave it away.
Now you answer which one would be
the toughest for you, and thats it.
The cookie cutters. Cookie-cutter males.
And cookie-cutter means
there was no difference in their religion,
in their state of origin, or anything.
They were just all exactly the same.
My father felt very strongly about having
a group of women astronauts.
If youre a pioneer, you just start
with your instincts, I guess.
He felt that women had
a definite role in space,
that there were... physically and
emotionally, that they had some attributes
that were stronger
than the male astronauts.
And he wanted to test their capability
by comparing their test results to
the test results of the male astronauts.
one of the women in his life
that catapulted that into action
was his relationship with Jackie Cochran.
Im Jacqueline Cochran, and I really would
like to be the first woman in space.
Anyone whos spent as much time in the air
as I have in the last 34 years
is bound to yearn
to go a little bit farther.
Jackie Cochran was my godmother.
Floyd Odlum actually was
on our board of directors.
I think he was the president.
He was the original chairman of our board
for the Lovelace Clinic.
So he turned to Floyd Odlum and Jackie,
and they financed that study.
This was his program.
Dr. Lovelace did it on his own,
outside of his contract with NASA
and invited 25 women
to come and take the physical exam,
very similar
to what the astronauts were taking.
They had a list
of the top pilots that they knew.
And one of the first that was called
was Jerrie Cobb.
She was a great gal.
I was asked by Dr. Lovelace
and General Flickinger
to be the first woman
to go through these astronaut tests.
This was in 1959.
Both of them had just come back
from a scientific meeting in Moscow.
At that time, they had heard the Russians
were gonna train women cosmonauts.
And this was over three years ago.
So they thought we ought to get together
and start doing something.
They asked me if I would be the first
woman to undergo the astronaut test,
which I was, couldnt say yes fast enough,
and then...
Now, I knew Jerrie
because she flew the Aero Commander.
She had done a lot of flying.
She flew a lot into South America.
And I knew her life.
I knew Jerrie Cobb, yeah.
She was a good pilot.
But I think I could fly
as well as she could.
She may not think so,
but I think I couldve.
Why, in the Western program,
do you think there is a need,
if you feel there is a need,
for women in space?
Well, its the same thing as,
is there a need for men in space?
I mean, if were going to send
a human being into space,
we should send the one most qualified.
And in certain areas women have a lot
to offer, and other areas, men do.
I think that we ought to use both.
Jerrie and I were from Oklahoma.
I was at Fort Sill.
She called and said,
Do you want to be an astronaut?
I said," Absolutely."
I knew Wally.
And Wally took me aside one time
when we were having a competition,
and she said," Im in a secret program."
Its an astronaut program,
and its very secret.
And I thought," That sounds like fun.
I think I want to get involved in that."
So heres my letter
to Dr. Lovelace saying,
Im physically fit and Im a pilot,
and Id like to participate
in your tests.
And heres his letter back.
And he encloses a card
which outlines the qualifications
of the women astronauts.
First thing they ask you is,
What are your total flying hours?
I can tell em that.
Then they wanna know your total jet hours,
your aircraft flown hours in each:
balloon flights, parachute jumps,
hours flown over 20,000 feet,
hours flown over 30,000 feet,
hours flown over 40,000 feet,
low-pressure chamber indoctrination,
explosive decompression experience,
partial pressure suit experience.
I could answer number one.
Yeah. None of us had any qualification.
She was an engineer.
We were subjects to be tested.
B was on that list.
This was something
that fit so much what she was.
I mean, she was
one of the finest professional pilots
in the country, bar none, men or women.
They contacted me. I...
And I guess they knew I was flying,
and so they talked to me about it.
I was on a tour of Europe, and there were,
kind of, rumors in the background
of what was going on
and how names had been asked for.
And the next thing I knew,
I got a phone call.
I went to my boss,
and I said, "Ive been invited
to go take an astronaut physical exam."
My boss said, We cannot spare you.
So I quit my job
to go take this... these tests.
I was the youngest.
Second one to go through after Jerrie,
maybe the third, in February of 61.
There were three phases
of astronaut testing.
Phase one was at Lovelace Clinic
in Albuquerque.
My parents drove me there
and had to sign me in.
We went through either singly or in pairs.
And I went through with Janey Hart,
who was a marvelous person.
Janey Hart, you know,
you werent supposed to have children,
and Janey Hart had eight.
They were so curious about her
that they invited her in.
So she and I went through it together.
We were the last two to go together.
It took five days.
And they were quite incredible,
because they didnt really know
what to think our bodies would do
in the outer atmospheres,
or how we were going to react.
The testing was arduous.
It was thorough and long hours.
It was a little bit more thorough
than most physical examinations.
Youd run from one test to the next test.
We had pulmonary function tests
Some of em were not... not, uh,
real friendly to the body.
total body determination tests
- Some of em were kind of exotic.
- Every tooth was taken, pictures.
Some of em were kind of strange.
Every bone in my body had an X-ray.
They x-rayed and x-rayed and x-rayed.
They gave me two cups,
and one said Urine and one said Stool.
I was having fun.
I just kinda laughed at some of the stuff.
I said," I dont know what 'stool' is."
A stool, to me,
is when I was sitting on a stool
milking cows in Taos.
I dont know what you mean.
Oh. A stool is
when you go to the bathroom.
I said," You dont want that, do you?"
Ill tell you very confidentially,
dont tell anybody this,
we had an enema every morning.
I said, "Wow."
There were some really oddball things
like that.
They inject water,
ten-degree water into my ears,
and thats when your body
just does not function.
You have no control over your body.
Oh, yeah. I remember that. Yeah.
I didnt like it, but I did it.
What they were doing to those gals
was just ugly.
Really none of the tests
stood out that much.
Shortly after I left, Jacqueline Cochran
was coming in for an interview too.
And she had taken some tests,
and he was going to give her
the results of the tests, he told me.
And I believe he told me,
Shes not gonna be happy with this.
So she found that she wasnt gonna be able
to be a part of the program.
I think that was kind of a downer for her.
She was too old, I think, at that point,
to even be considered for spaceflight.
Those arent the issues to her.
Would you like to be
a Mercury astronaut, or astronautte?
I would like very, very much to be.
I dont think age has a thing to do with
it as long as youre healthy and vigorous,
and Im all of that. After I got through
yesterday, you know what I did?
- No, what?
- Went out and played 18 holes of golf,
and then cooked dinner.
The very last day,
they told me I had passed.
And that meant a great deal to me.
It was very nice
when some of the doctors said
that I had done very well on these tests.
Remarkably, you know,
after having nine full pregnancies,
she just had a body that wouldnt quit.
It was great.
And of the 23ish girls who were taken,
only 13 passed.
Later, when B sat down
with Randy Lovelace,
he was absolutely thrilled
at what the women so far had done.
I was following it. Of course I was
following what the Russians were doing.
When Yuri Gagarin went up,
you know,
just a phenomenal thing to happen.
That was a huge event.
All of us were conscious of it.
All of us were conscious
of the competition with Russia,
the Soviet Union, at the same time.
So there was... there was the space race
as well as
just the scientific adventure hook.
My memories are,
Why cant the Americans do it?
This was the feeling at the time.
The Russians were basically crowing,
and they were clearly in advance
of our space program.
Our Mercury men were being prepared,
basically, to compete.
Three two one zero.
All right, now.
Liftoff, and the clock has started.
Yes, sir. Reading you loud and clear.
This is Freedom 7 . The fuel is go.
They were strapped into a seat
and sent up there and brought back down.
And, Whoopee, here I am.
I made it, but I didnt fly it.
Phase two was in Oklahoma City,
and I stayed at Jerries house.
And that was the psychological tests.
I heard about a test where
you were submerged in a tank of water and,
for a long period of time,
lost all the normal five senses.
That was a very interesting experiment
where they isolate you
in a tank of warm water.
The tank was in a great big room.
They had already
put the earplugs in my ears.
And I had just enough foam rubber
to go under the small of my back,
and I was to lay on the water
as long as possible.
So I get in the water, and I get
comfortable, and I spread-eagle out.
And I thought,
"Theres something wrong here."
I splashed the water,
couldnt feel it.
Splashed my face, couldnt feel any water.
Couldnt feel anything.
She found it interesting
that in that sensory deprivation chamber,
so-called, that the women
were perfectly happy to be there forever,
and that the men just couldnt take it.
They started crawling out of their skin.
You just sort of feel nothing.
Its very relaxing, I found it,
and very peaceful.
Id been on quite a schedule
before I went in there.
So I sort of welcomed the rest,
and set a record
for staying in nine and a half hours.
But most of the people,
the average, uh, mature person,
after about three hours of this,
starts hallucinations.
Whats gone on here is
the temperature of the water,
the humidity of the room
was my exact body temperature
to make me feel in a weightless situation,
laying on the water.
This is what they thought
space travel would be like.
So I lay there.
I think I fell asleep
maybe for a minute or so.
I was thinking
about how wonderful it would be
to be up there and feel the lightness.
It was freedom.
You can look up, you can see the stars
the moon, and the sun.
And you wonder, How does it all work?
I didnt have the answers.
But I was thinking about all this.
Floating amongst the stars,
that is my objective.
The third testing was to go
to Pensacola, Florida with the navy.
We were all going to go down there
at the same time, all 13 of us.
It would be the first time
we would meet each other.
This is a letter from Jacqueline Cochran.
See, Dr. Randolph Lovelace II
of the Lovelace Foundation
has notified you of the invitation
to go to Pensacola, Florida
for a... take a series of tests
to start on September 18, 1961.
I strongly urge you to go.
We were gonna get jet orientation.
We were gonna get the centrifuge.
There were just gonna be lots
of neat things that were gonna happen.
Flying jets,
oh, she was looking forward to that.
They had been given their tickets,
their time. Everything was set up.
We were supposed to report there
on, I think it was on a Monday,
and I remember B Steadman telling me
she had her golf clubs packed.
Thats when NASA got wind of it.
They didnt know anything
about Dr. Lovelaces program.
Regret to advise
arrangements at Pensacola canceled.
Probably will not be possible
to carry out this part of the program.
You may return expense advance allotment
to Lovelace Foundation.
Heres another one.
Miss Cobb has just informed us
from Washington that she has been unable
to reverse the decision
postponing the Florida testing.
Im very sorry for such short notice,
but it is unavoidable.
When he had the results,
which he thought were superior to the men,
so he did tell us that
and we all thought that was really cool,
he took the results to Washington.
They said,
We have no need for women astronauts.
Forget it.
There was certainly no great desire
on the part of NASA.
In fact, Im confident that
they were surprised, terribly surprised,
by the fact
that the women succeeded as they did.
They did not want this program,
pure and simple.
Said it had to be the biggest
slap in the face hed ever had.
I mean, it had to be pretty devastating.
It was very heartbreaking for me
because I wanted to go on and pursue this.
But we kept getting letters
from Jerrie Cobb:
Keep up your hopes.
Keep up your aviation.
Maybe we can get the program reinstated
and go on.
Shortly after,
I was at an airport where there was
a lot of helicopter training.
I just decided,
I think Ill learn how to do that too.
All the men were jealous of this woman
flying a helicopter.
And theyd park it
real close to the hangar.
And I was a little afraid
to take it up and over into a hover.
But I kind of put it out of my mind.
I didnt care.
I was going to keep on fighting.
Well, I was disappointed.
But about that time I decided that I would
like to move out of flight instructing
and go into a different kind of flying.
So off I went
to work for Beech Aircraft Corporation.
And they were getting ready to introduce
a new model airplane named the Musketeer.
There were only two women in the United
States flying for aircraft manufacturers,
and one of em was Jerrie Cobb,
who was flying for Aero Commander.
The other one was Joyce Case,
who was flying for Beech Aircraft.
They were getting ready
to introduce a Musketeer.
They were gonna fly three of em
in all 48 contiguous states for 90 days,
uh, introducing the airplane.
And of course,
if two of the three pilots are female,
well get a lot of free publicity.
And I can tell you that we always flew
in a dress and high heels.
We were workin hard.
We were flyin, flyin, flyin.
We got used to flying in formation.
We knew nothing about flying formation
when we started out.
But after a few days of it,
we got pretty good at it.
We made some 80 changes
in that airplane the first year.
So we were test pilots.
No question about that.
I was hired right after the tests
to go to California
and be with Center Aviation.
I bought my Stearman,
and I taught myself acrobatics.
I love it when I can go flying.
I love it when I can do acrobatics.
It is fabulous because you are free.
Youre not attached to the gravity
of the Earth.
You can do what you want to do.
And thats how I feel
and thats how I think.
I dream about space.
I wanna be up there.
Thats part of me.
How am I gonna get up there?
I have to imagine.
Im not a jet. I am not a person.
Im a spirit going up.
- Fifteen seconds.
- Good Lord, ride all the way.
In Godspeed, John Glenn.
Glenn was
the first to orbit. The first American.
Roger. Cape is go, and I am go.
Our capsule is in good shape.
And, lets face it, youre
going up there in an untested system.
Nobody, nobody really knows
whats going to happen.
Roger. Zero G and I feel fine.
Capsule is turning around.
Oh, that view is tremendous.
So I give Glenn credit for courage.
I give them all credit for courage.
Uh, Friendship 7, this is Cape.
Do you read?
This is Friendship 7.
A real fireball outside.
At the same time, I give the women
the same credit for the same courage.
Their willingness
to take part in the unknown
was equally strong
and as courageous as that of the men.
About that time,
Jerrie had contacted the women and said,
Okay. Lets... Lets make noise
because theyve cheated us
by not letting us go to Pensacola
and take more testing.
So the secret is out.
Jerrie Cobb and Janey Hart figured they
would go up before this Senate committee
and they would get the program reinstated,
because Janey Hart had political clout.
My father was elected to the Senate
after having been
the lieutenant governor of Michigan.
Janey and Jerrie Cobb felt
that Congress ought to tell NASA,
Now, lets get with this. Lets do this.
Both Miss Cobb and Mrs. Hart,
if everyone is agreeable,
we will begin the questioning.
Janey started with an opening statement.
I strongly believe women should have
a role in space research.
In fact, its inconceivable to me
that the world of outer space
should be restricted to men only,
like some sort of stag club.
A hundred years ago,
it was quite inconceivable
that women should serve
as hospital attendants.
Their essentially frail
and emotional structure
would never stand the horrors
of a military dressing station.
Finally, it was agreed
to allow some women to try it,
provided they were middle-aged and ugly,
ugly women presumably having
more strength of character.
I submit, Mr. Chairman,
that a woman in space today
is no more preposterous
than a woman in a field hospital
a hundred years ago.
Mrs. Hart,
youre the mother of eight children.
Do you think itll be difficult for
a woman astronaut to also have a family?
In which order? Uh...
- Well, Im asking you that. Which order?
- Um...
Well, Ive accomplished
the production of eight children
and am in the process of raising them,
and Ive still been able to acquire
2,000 hours of flying time
and considerable aeronautical experience,
and also to help my husband, uh,
in his campaigns and so forth.
So this indicates that Ive been able
to make constructive use of my time
outside of... of, uh having the children.
And I dont think that the family life
has been sacrificed one bit.
You should probably ask the children this
and see how they feel about it.
For her, if she can have eight kids
in ten years and make it work,
the idea of going to space,
I think, was not that great a challenge.
They once asked her, Why would you wanna
go to the moon? This was in the paper.
And she said, "With eight kids,
youd want to go to the moon too."
All right, Miss Cobb. Do you have
a prepared statement? Miss Cobb: Yes.
We women pilots
who want to be a part of space exploration
are not trying to join
a battle of the sexes.
We seek only a place
in our nations space future
without discrimination.
We ask as citizens of the nation
to be allowed to participate
with seriousness and sincerity
in the making of history now,
as women have done in the past.
No nation has yet sent a female
into space.
We offer you 13 women pilot volunteers.
Miss Cobb, do you think women
are being discriminated against
in the space program?
I dont think necessarily
theyre being discriminated against.
I think that the rules
have been established
to where it makes... it makes it impossible
for women to meet
the qualifications of astronauts.
The most hyped-up
qualifying catch-22, of course,
was that all of them were test pilots
and jet-certified pilots
and fighter pilots, in most cases.
So they had that qualification
that no women had.
But of course, they couldnt,
because they werent allowed
to become jet fighter pilots.
There was a law.
Eisenhower had put a law in
that for women to fly military aircraft,
they had to be men.
I dont think they should
become astronauts because, uh, uh,
I dont... men are more mature than women.
I think they should. I think that women
should have an equal right with men,
and if they would qualify and like to go,
they should be trained and sent.
Yes, I do. Because theyre, well,
theyre lighter, and small, and
Well, I just think they ought to be.
- And what about your opinion?
- No, I disagree. I think that, uh...
I dont think women are physically fit
to be astronauts.
I certainly do think
women should be astronauts.
If theyre physically fit, mentally alert,
theyre not any different than men are.
In fact, there are less women
going to psychiatrists than men,
so that gives you some idea
as to their mental capabilities.
The people who held the hearing,
they were in such awe of the astronauts
who came and spoke and testified.
Scott Carpenter and John Glenn
gave their point of view.
John Glenn was the hero. He was God.
Space God.
Oh, John Glenn. Yes.
Not one of our familys
favorite characters,
certainly not Mothers.
John Glenn made his statement.
Its just a fact.
The men go off and fight the wars
and fly the airplanes
and come back
and help design and build and test them.
The fact that the women
are not in this field
is a fact of our social order.
He said that," If the women can prove
they're better than the men,
then well welcome them with open arms
to the cheers of the multitude."
Yeah, right.
But if you could find women
better qualified than yourself,
how would you welcome them in the program?
They would be very welcome.
Can you imagine a woman flying a jet
or flying a dangerous aircraft?
Oh! Goodness gracious, no.
But Jacqueline Cochran had flown the jets.
Shed shattered all kinds of records.
She had access to the jets
because her husband, Floyd Odlum,
was building the jets now
for the air force.
So she proved that the women
could fly the jets.
When it finally came down to the hearing,
the congressional hearing, she testified.
Of course, Floyd Odlum and Jackie Cochran
were large supporters
of the Lovelace Foundation.
So I didnt give up hope.
This is great.
Oh, boy.
All right. So Im reading
from the testimony of Jacqueline Cochran.
The manned spaceflights
are extremely expensive
and also urgent in the national interests,
and therefore, in selecting astronauts,
it was natural and proper
to sift them from the group of male pilots
who had already proven,
by aircraft testing
and high-speed precision flying,
that they were experienced,
competent, and qualified
to meet possible emergencies
in a new environment.
From all I have been told
by the newspapers,
that we do not want
to slow down our program,
and you are going to have to,
of necessity,
waste a great deal of money
when you take a large group of women in,
because you lose them through marriage.
I find this stunning.
Why? Why had Jacqueline Cochran done this?
She had basically knocked down
the women of the space program.
How she stomached it then, I dont know.
The most shocking thing
about the hearings was that
we felt like Jackie turned against us.
Janey and Jerrie counted on Jackie Cochran
supporting them.
And Jackie Cochran did not do
what they thought she was gonna do.
- That was a shock. Yeah.
- Yeah, it was much of a shock.
Jacqueline Cochran sort of
Now, she had always
worked with the military.
And so Jackie was convinced by the brass,
by these generals,
if she tried to push this now,
that it was going to have a bad effect
on the program.
In fact, it might even stop the program.
Well, I think thats ludicrous,
but she bought in.
And they took my testimony.
I sent it around and got
what I was going to say approved
by the chief of staff of the air force,
the chief of naval operations,
and the army,
and with a little note that said,
This is what Im gonna say.
But if you dont agree with it,
Ill try to avoid testifying
and I wont say anything.
Jackie Cochran was not a feminist.
In my mind, the definition of a feminist
is someone who really champions
and promotes women.
Jackie was a champion of Jackie.
I think if Jackie had been
one of the 13 in that program,
her entire demeanor, her entire testimony,
and everything that she said in that
hearing would have been very different.
After that, Vice President Johnson
canceled the program.
The women were doing too well.
There is a classic letter
signed by Lyndon Johnson.
And he is the one that said,
This program must stop now,
and signed it.
His words were, Stop this now.
Lyndon Johnson supposedly,
supposedly, said,
well, you know,
women have their periods.
I wish you could put that on a tampon box,
that you can fly,
you can fly if youre having your period.
It was so typical, in that day and age,
of men and how they judged women.
There were any number of ways
to keep them from achieving
what they wanted to achieve.
I think it had as much to do
with the boys not wanting
to have the light taken away from them,
because they were the heroes of our time.
One beautiful woman as an astronaut
would have just dominated the news
to the extent that
the other seven would feel...
What has gone wrong,
and wheres my money?
If the gentlemen who denied the Mercury 13
were comfortable in their skin,
they would have behaved differently.
But underneath it all,
its just some little boy whos afraid.
We all know why it didnt happen.
And that goes back to this issue of
uh, just prejudice,
good old-fashioned prejudice.
- Of course they were prejudiced.
- It was a good old boy network.
And there was no such thing
as a good old girl network.
I was disappointed,
cause I knew I did it well, and...
But they didnt like that, or they didnt
like any of the people doing it.
So that was the end of that one.
Years, years later,
Jackie admitted to me she was embarrassed,
she was regretful
and somewhat ashamed, and told me so.
In order to beat the Russians to the moon,
we first have to catch up with them.
When do you think this might happen,
and what do you expect
their next space mission to be?
A little difficult to pinpoint
where we stand in a race
when the opposition does everything
under cloak-and-dagger type secrecy,
where we dont know what theyre doing.
You dont know what youre racing against.
You dont have any idea, their mission?
Supposed to be one quite soon.
None at all. I have no secret information
other than what I read in the newspapers.
although she was Russian and we wished
the first one would have been American,
she still helped the program.
It was a bold move
to climb into one of those vehicles
and shoot up into space
and then see what happens next.
Valentina was a sport parachutist.
We would rather have seen
a pilot selected.
But the fact that they had a woman
going into space,
that was a breakthrough,
and, uh, we-we admired her very much.
It was a huge
propaganda victory for the Russians again.
B just sat there and thought
how stupid these men were.
The Russians have put up
a woman cosmonaut.
Is there any room in our space programs
for a woman astronaut,
in your opinion, sir?
Well, we could have used a woman on the...
on the second... actually, the second
orbital Mercury-Atlas that we had.
We could have put a woman up,
the same type of woman,
and flown her instead of the chimpanzee.
Mother was really angry.
Really angry. Yeah.
Yes, she was.
And stayed that way, actually.
This termination of this program
began to move her in the direction
of being radicalized.
Mother was one of the very first
founding members of NOW,
the National Organization of Women.
Shed been invited
as a result of the hearings.
She hammered on womens rights
day and night,
week after week, month after month,
almost, um, just to the point of,
Here she goes again.
Thats one small step for a woman
one giant leap for womankind.
Youve only got 15 minutes before we
want you driving back to the LEM, over.
Well get to work.
Sarah, we need to sample here.
Going to the moon
was one of those points in the 60s
where there was something
we could all share with pride.
Its a great ride.
Steerings a little tricky though.
But imagine how much more telling
and significant it would have been
to have a woman step onto the moon.
It was
a very seriously missed opportunity.
This really could have
changed lives hugely.
Not just in terms of, you know,
little girls getting engineering degrees,
but moving into positions of real power
implementing practices and policies
that might have represented
that humanitarian component of woman,
you know,
as opposed to the bellicose boys.
It would have had an amazing,
positive impact
empowering women in general,
and overcoming this notion
that women cannot do
what men do in this country.
I would have liked
to have walked on the moon.
I would have loved to have put the
American flag into the crust of the moon
and saluted it
pick up a few rocks, and boy,
those rocks are worth a lot today
and do the assignments
that had to be done.
I wouldve loved it.
I couldve walked on it. I couldve
kicked it out. I couldve made dust.
Because I know the guys did.
I couldve done anything they did.
I grew up in Elmira, New York,
and the interesting thing about Elmira is
its the location
of the National Soaring Museum.
So when I was a child,
Id watch the gliders take off and land.
And I wondered,
What would it be like if I was up there?
So I started thinking as a child
that maybe I could fly someday.
As I got older,
I decided I wanted to be an astronaut.
But I dont remember thinking,
I cant do this because Im not a man.
It was more like,
Well, Im going to be an astronaut,
and Ill just be a woman astronaut.
The air force opened flight training
to women in 1976.
I was in the first class of women pilots
in the air force
that went right out of college.
And we were in a test program.
So we just knew if we had failed,
that then women wouldnt continue to fly.
So I tried very, very hard.
I wasnt gonna date anybody.
I wasnt gonna have a crazy social life.
Because it was so important to me
to be the best pilot I could be.
I loved the air force.
Absolutely loved it.
But I never told anyone
I wanted to be an astronaut
because I knew they were gonna tell me
I couldnt do it.
I was out flying.
I came back to the squadron
and there was a yellow note
hanging on the bulletin board.
And it said: "Call NASA".
I go, This is it.
Theyre gonna tell me if Im in or out.
John Young answered the phone.
He was an astronaut who walked
on the moon during the Apollo program.
The first thing he said to me was,
"Do you still want to be an astronaut?"
I said," Uh"
So he went through this whole long
narrative about what I was gonna do
at Johnson Space Center.
He said," Do you have any questions?"
I said, "Yes. Am I gonna be a pilot
or a mission specialist?"
And he said, "Youre gonna be a pilot."
Youre gonna be the first woman
to pilot the space shuttle.
Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton,
and Administrator Goldin,
I just cant tell you how much of an honor
it is for me to be here today.
I also think its important that
I point out that I didnt get here alone.
Theres so many women
throughout this century
that have gone before me
and have taken to the skies.
Um, from the first barnstormers,
through the women air force...
The women military air force
service pilots from World War II,
the Mercury women
from back in the early 1960s
that went through the...
All the tough medical testing.
All these women have been
my role models and my inspiration,
and I couldnt be here today without them,
and Id like to say a special thank-you
to them.
The Mercury 13 women are heroes of mine.
We all had this bond
because we were all pilots.
So I invited all of them to my launch.
Well, when NASA found out
what was going on, who these women were,
NASA took them off of my list
and put them on the VIP list.
When Eileen Collins went up,
uh, I got a call,
and she invited me to come to the launch.
They had a press conference or whatever,
where they have the astronauts
up on a stage in this large hall.
They had Eileen take the microphone.
Before she did anything else, she said,
"I would like to recognize
the Mercury 13."
And she pointed to them.
She said, "Would you please stand up?"
And then she read the names.
And then she said,
"If it were not for the Mercury 13,
I would not be here today."
They were very gracious and outgoing
to us, and could not have been nicer.
But I will never forget that,
when all those astronauts
stood up and clapped for us.
We have booster ignition
and liftoff of Columbia,
reaching new heights for women
and X-ray astronomy.
This is Columbia. In the roll,
weve got a fuel cell number one.
Roger roll, Columbia.
Were looking at it.
And so that had a lot of meaning for us,
to get to know Eileen,
and especially to go watch her
head out into the sky.
Just love it, thinking,
Shes in the drivers seat.
That woman is in the drivers seat.
We felt redeemed,
like our mission had not been in vain.
We started people thinking that,
Yes, women can do this.
And, Houston, what youre seeing
is the actual moment of deploy there,
when we take the switch to deploy,
and its so quiet...
When I talk about the future
of space exploration,
one of the things
I tell young people nowadays is,
Of the 12 people that walked on the moon,
they were all men.
But that was a function of the culture
that we had in the world
back in the 1960s.
You can be the first woman
to walk on the moon
if you wanna be an astronaut.
Thats the message I tell young people.
Maybe the first person to walk on Mars
will be a woman.
We got Eileen. We got all the girls.
A lot of em are engineers.
Some are pilots.
This is what I speak
to the youngsters today:
Get into the STEM program.
Get your engineering degree.
Go with NASA.
And get yourself into space.
Get yourself into flying.
Be an airline pilot.
Be a flight instructor.
If thats what you wanna be, do it.
Cause thats what I love.