Women Space Pioneers

Before Hidden Figures, Hollywood had paid little attention to the contributions of women to the early US space program.

The 2017 Oscar-nominated film told the tale of three female African-American mathematicians who helped make the early space missions possible.

A new documentary, Mercury 13, now reveals that women were not only in the control room but competing to go into space as well.

‘Project Mercury’ began in 1958 with seven men – all military test pilots – aka The Mercury 7. Although the Mercury 7 were introduced with great fanfare, NASA revealed nothing about the women who tested. Thirteen of them passed and, according to the film’s producers, “in some cases, performed better than the men.”

The Mercury 13 “had the ‘right stuff’ but were, unfortunately, the wrong gender.”

Directed by David Sington and Heather Walsh, Mercury 13 is now available on Netflix.

You can also stream Hidden Figures, starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst and Jim Parsons, with a direct subscription to HBO Now or as an add-on channel to an existing Amazon Prime subscription. You can also purchase Hidden Figures starting at $9.99 from Amazon or other providers.

Finally, there’s the classic 1983 film about The Mercury 7, The Right Stuff, based on the Tom Wolfe book, starring Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, Sam Shepard, Scott Glen and Fred Ward. You can rent the movie starting at $2.99 SD/$3.99 HD from the Microsoft Store and other providers.

About Larry Greenberg

A former local beat reporter and film critic, co-founder Lawrence Greenberg has more than 25 years’ experience as a writer and public relations executive.

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