Mercury 13 is a Netflix documentary about 13 female aviators that were screened to be astronauts during the 1960’s space race. Fans of last year’s Hidden Figures will enjoy learning about thirteen extraordinary women who went through the same physical rigors as the male Mercury astronauts but were denied entry into NASA’s official Mercury program due to their lack of combat training, something that no woman at that time could achieve.
Although the late John Glenn was portrayed as a hero of women’s rights in Hidden Figures, he is definitely a villain as far as these thirteen women are concerned. His testimony before the US Congress, combined with that of his fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter, were used to deny these women the right to become astronauts. “The fact that women are not in this field is a fact of our social order,” Glenn stated, even though the USSR would later send Valentina Tereshkova into space on June 16, 1963.
Although Sally Ride became the first American female in space twenty years later in 1983, the first female pilot didn’t fly until 1995 when NASA assigned Eileen Collins to pilot space shuttle Discovery (see related Wikipedia article, STS-63). Eileen Collins helps bring the documentary to a close, acknowledging the contributions of the Mercury 13. She invited the surviving Mercury 13 women to her shuttle flights.
As the father of two daughters and a space geek, I highly recommend this engaging true story for your Netflix queue.
- Watch Mercury 13 on Netflix
- Purchase The Mercury 13: The True Story of Thirteen Women and the Dream of Space Flight (paperback edition) by Martha Ackmann on Amazon.com
- Purchase Hidden Figures (Blu Ray edition) on Amazon.com
- Purchase Hidden Figures (paperback edition) by Margot Lee Shetterly on Amazon.com
- Purchase Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars (paperback edition) by Nathalia Holt on Amazon.com
- Learn more about the Mercury 13 on Wikipedia