This is the story of the First Lady Astronaut Trainees, an elite group of women pilots who underwent astronaut testing and seemed like they might be on track to become astronauts in the early 1960s. The best remembered of these women is probably Jerrie Cobb, a record-setting aviator. Even though Cobb and twelve others did extremely well in the astronaut tests, none of them went to space and the program they were part of was killed, speaking to the unwarranted sexism of the early American space program.
The FLATs weren’t technically part of the NASA program. Their testing was overseen by Dr. Randy Lovelace, the doctor who created the Mercury mission’s astronaut testing standards, at his private clinic. Cobb was recruited first, in 1960, and on the basis of her results, twenty-five other women were tested, with twelve qualifying. At moments in 1961, writes Amy Shira Teitel for Popular Science, it certainly appeared that the FLATs were being seriously considered for entry into the space program.
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