Right Stuff, Wrong Sex: America's First Women in Space Program

Front Cover
JHU Press, Oct 26, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 256 pages
5 Reviews

On June 17, 1963, Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space. Curiously, unlike every previous milestone in the "space race," this event did not spur NASA to catch up by flying an American woman. Though there were suitable candidates-two years earlier, thirteen female pilots recruited by the private Woman in Space program had passed a strenuous physical exam and were ready for another stage of astronaut testing-American women would not escape earth's gravity for another twenty years.

In Right Stuff, Wrong Sex, Margaret Weitekamp shows how the Woman in Space program—conceived by Dr. William Randolph Lovelace and funded by world-famous pilot and businesswoman Jacqueline Cochran—challenged prevailing attitudes about women's roles and capabilities. In examining the experiences of the Fellow Lady Astronaut Trainees (as the candidates called themselves), this book documents the achievements and frustrated hopes of a remarkable group of women whose desire to serve their country fell victim to hostility toward such aspirations. Drawing from archival research and interviews with participants, Weitekamp traces the rise and fall of the Woman in Space program within the context of the cold war and the thriving women's aviation culture of the 1950s. Weitekamp's study sheds light on a little-known but compelling chapter in the history of the U.S. space program and the rise of the women's movement in America.


What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Shrike58 - LibraryThing

While nominally about the abortive attempt to have the United States be the first to put a woman in space, to a large degree this monograph is about the friendship between the aviatrix Jackie Cochrane ... Read full review

Review: Right Stuff, Wrong Sex: America's First Women in Space Program

User Review  - Anthony Faber - Goodreads

This was near "The Right Stuff" on the shelf and the title grabbed me. It's not a bad book, but the whole privately funded project to put women flyers through the same tests that they gave the Mercury ... Read full review


Send Jerrie into Space
This Buck Rogers Nonsense
WASPs WhirlyGirls and NinetyNines
Should a Girl Be First in Space?
Initial Examinations for Female Astronaut Candidates
A Fact of Our Social Order

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

About the author (2005)

Margaret A. Weitekamp is curator in the Division of Space History at the National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.