NASA rules at the dawn of the Space Age held that only military test pilots could become astronauts--and at that time, there were no female test pilots in the military. So even though in 1961 Jerrie Cobb, a versatile and experienced pilot, became the first woman to pass all three phases of the Mercury astronaut program, she was not allowed to go any further in the astronaut corps. Here, in April 1960, she's having a go at a gimbal rig (the long name is "multiple axis space test inertia facility," abbreviated to MASTIF), which was designed to help astronauts get a feel for controlling a tumbling spacecraft.
July 4, 2010 6:00 AM PDT
Photo by: NASA
| Caption by: Jonathan Skillings
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