Jerrie Cobb, America's First Astronaut Candidate, Dies


Cobb was part of the "Mercury 13", was an inspiration to women pilots and astronauts everywhere.

Cape Canaveral: The first astronaut candidate in America, pilot Jerry Cobb, who fought for equality in space, but never reached the peak, died recently. Cobb died in Florida at the age of 88 on March 18 after a brief illness. The news of his death came Thursday from journalist Miles O'Brien, serving as the family's spokesman.

In 1961, Cobb became the first woman to pass the astronaut test. In all, 13 women passed the arduous physical test and became known as Mercury 13. But NASA already had its Mercury 7 astronauts, all jetster pilots and all the military.

None of the Mercury 13 made it to space, despite Cobb's testimony in 1962 before a congressional panel. "We are only looking for a place in the future of our nation's space without discrimination," she told a special House subcommittee on astronaut selection.

Instead of making her an astronaut, NASA called her as a consultant to talk about the space program. She was fired one week after commenting, "I'm the most unaddressed consultant in any government agency." In her 1997 autobiography, "Jerrie Cobb, Solo Pilot," she wrote: "My country, my culture, was not ready to let a woman fly in space."

Cobb served for decades as a humanitarian aid pilot in the Amazon jungle. "She should have gone into space but transformed her life into a service with grace," tweeted Ellen Stofan, director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum and a former NASA scientist.

The Soviet Union eventually put the first woman, Valentina Tereshkova, in space in 1963. NASA did not take a woman into space, Sally Ride, until 1983. Cobb and other surviving members of Mercury 13 participated in the launch of the 1995 shuttle Eileen Collins, NASA's first space pilot and later its first female space commander.

"Jerrie Cobb was the inspiration for many of our members in their record breaking, their desire to go into space and only to prove that women could do what men could do," said Laura Ohrenberg, manager of the Oklahoma headquarters City. Nines Inc, an international women's licensed pilot organization.

Still hopefully, Cobb emerged in 1998 to give NASA more space by preparing the launch of astronaut John Glenn – the first North American to orbit the world – at Discovery, at age 77. Cobb argued that the geriatric spatial study should also include a former woman.

"I would give my life to fly in space, I really would," Cobb told The Associated Press at the age of 67 in 1998. "It's hard for me to talk about it, but I would do it, I would, and now I will. " it just did not work, and I hope and pray for that to happen now. "NASA never flew with another elderly person in space, male or female.

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