Mercury 13 Trailer

There was a time when being an astronaut was the dream of many Americans. However, all of the talk was about putting the first person in space, and all of the astronauts being sent up in rockets and landing on the moon were men. But there were plenty of women who wanted a chance to venture outside of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Mercury 13 is a new Netflix documentary which tells the story of a secret program that tested female pilots for an opportunity to be part of the Mercury program that started in 1958 with the hopes of sending a man in space. Unfortunately, NASA wasn’t interested in sending women to space, despite the fact that some of them performed better than the men on the required tests.

Watch the Mercury 13 Trailer

The documentary comes from director David Sington (The Fear of 13) and Heather Walsh, and it looks equally fascinating and frustrating. To think that there were all these women who were fully qualified to head into space but were denied entry into the space program simply because of their gender is devastating. At the very least, these women are having their story told today, and maybe they will inspire women to seek out careers in aviation and science in order to reinvigorate the space program someday.

Thankfully, NASA evolved to include women in all levels of their program with 60 women being sent into space. But it’s a shame that these women never realized their dream of going to space when they were in their prime.

Mercury 13 is a remarkable story of the women who were tested for spaceflight in 1961 before their dreams were dashed in being the first to make the trip beyond Earth. NASA’s ‘man in space’ program, dubbed ‘Project Mercury’ began in 1958. The men chosen – all military test pilots – became known as The Mercury 7. But away from the glare of the media, behind firmly closed doors, female pilots were also screened. Thirteen of them passed and, in some cases, performed better than the men. They were called the Mercury 13 and had the ‘right stuff’ but were, unfortunately, the wrong gender. Underneath the obsession of the space race that gripped America, the women were aviation pioneers who emerged thirsty for a new frontier, but whose time would have to wait. The film tells the definitive story of thirteen truly remarkable women who reached for the stars but were ahead of their time.

Mercury 13 will debut on Netflix on April 20, 2018.

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