Today’s the birthday of the woman who could have been the first woman in space, Jerrie Cobb.
If you saw the Netflix documentary “Mercury 13” or the play “They Promised Her The Moon,” you know a lot of this story.
Cobb was born in Oklahoma in 1931, and was flying not too long afterward.
She got her private pilot’s license at age sixteen, and saved up her money from playing semi-pro softball to buy her own plane.
Over the next decade, she built up an impressive flying resume, that included three aviation records for speed, distance and altitude.
This came at a time when the brand-new U.S. space program was seeking pilots.
Cobb was one of thirteen women who passed all the same tests the Mercury 7 did, through a separate initiative called the Women In Space program.
In fact, Cobb surpassed all the astronaut candidates by withstanding nine hours in a sensory deprivation tank! Nine hours!
In the end, NASA chose seven male test pilots as the first U.S. astronauts.
That’s why the Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space instead of Cobb or one of her colleagues.
But Jerrie Cobb kept flying.
For decades she flew humanitarian missions to South American countries, bringing medical supplies to remote villages.
And when Eileen Collins became NASA’s first female space pilot in 1995, Cobb and other members of the Mercury 13 were there on launch day.
Maybe you saw in the news this week that NASA is recruiting for a new class of astronauts.
Had Cobb not passed away last year at age 88, something tells me she might have sent in an application.
It was also on this day in 2011 that a museum in the Netherlands first put on exhibit a work called “Peanut Butter Floor.”
It was exactly what it sounds like.
The concept came from artist Wim T. Schippers and took over 2,000 jars of peanut butter to construct.
There was no barrier between the art and the audience, and it probably does not surprise you to know that eventually someone stepped on the peanut butter.
If that was my peanut butter floor, that would have driven me nuts!
Jerrie Cobb, America’s first female astronaut candidate, dies at 88 (NBC News)
Cobb, Geraldyn “Jerrie” M., Aviation Pioneer (National Aviation Hall of Fame)
Peanut Butter Floor (Bookofjoe)
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Photo: NASA via Wikicommons