Right stuff. Wrong gender

Word comes today that Janet Christine Dietrich has died. She, and 12 other women, underwent — and passed — the same “physical and psychological assessments as the men who became immortalized as America’s first astronauts,” according to an article this afternoon in the San Francisco Chronicle.

While the women waited for the next phase of their program in July 1961, the testing was halted without warning or explanation.

It wasn’t until Sally Ride went into space 20 years later that America learned what it could have learned 20 years earlier.

(h/t: Michael Wells)

  • Tyler Suter

    I am 24 years old and it is hard for me to even imagine what things were like at that time. To consider a man not marrying such an obviously brilliant and stunning woman as Dietrich because she would not give up her work and passion is jaw dropping.

    Alo, I’d be curious to find out, one, why the tests were haulted, and two, whether the tests were haulted just for the female subjects. I hope it was because they concluded the the tests, such as drinking radioactive water, were pretty harmful.

  • Anna

    There’s a book about the women who were the first to be trained as astronauts called “The Mercury 13″ by Martha Ackmann. It’s a fascinating read – these were some pretty cool women, and women who knew what they wanted (even if they couldn’t always get it) – it’s a shame their talents weren’t fully utilized.

  • c

    What I admire is the fact that these two women didn’t quit but took a different direction in getting women the same rights in space as men. (If gender really was the issue.)

    I think that sometimes society is not ready for bold changes. And I really think that it takes a shift in thought from the masses for growth. Sometimes it calls for dramatic tragedy to occur before we, as a country, can decide that we need to try something different-shed a new light.

    For example: Pre George Bush, would we had been ready for, would we had embraced, the type of changes and ideas that Barach Obama has to offer the US?

  • c

    /It wasn’t until Sally Ride went into space 20 years later that America learned what it could have learned 20 years earlier./

    So what did we learn 20 years later? The article doesn’t really say. Is she getting a bunch of credit just because she has a different gender? If that is the case, what did we learn when we finally sent the first hispanic, italian, or african into space? Maybe they cut these women out of the astro-prep program because these women were fraternizing with the male candidates and messing up the whole program. Who knows?!