Notes on... Mercury 13


Mercury 7 were America’s first astronauts, the first to experience zero gravity and the first to orbit Earth. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they achieved considerable acclaim. You probably haven’t heard of the Mercury 13. They were a group of enthusiastic pilots and aspiring astronauts and part of an unofficial NASA programme - that were women. 

Following on from the success of Hidden Figures, the Oscar-nominated film that depicted the struggle for recognition of black women working behind the scenes at NASA, Mercury 13 is a Netflix-produced documentary showing the struggle of the women trying to go to space themselves, in a very male-dominated culture.

Some of the pilots, now in their eighties, make for inspiring and engaging interview subjects and footage of the elaborate and exhaustive medical testing they went through is fascinating. They passed all the same rigorous testing as their male counterparts. But perhaps most interesting of all are the missed opportunities presented by the eventual demise of the programme. The documentary is a telling and important reminder of the barrier women have had to endure to be considered as equals in this industry and beyond. 

Watch Mercury 13 on Netflix