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NASA’s 1st female astronaut candidate, Jerrie Cobb, dies

In this 1960 photo made available by NASA, Jerrie Cobb prepares to operate the Multi-Axis Space Test Inertia Facility (MASTIF) at the Lewis Research Center in Ohio. The three-axis rig was developed to train Project Mercury pilots in bringing a spinning spacecraft under control. The two controllers in Cobb's hands activated small nitrogen gas thrusters that were used to bring the MASTIF under control. She was one of several female pilots who underwent the skill and endurance testing that paralleled that of the Project Mercury astronauts. In 1961 Jerrie Cobb was the first female to pass all three phases of the Mercury Astronaut Program. NASA rules, however, stipulated that only military test pilots could become astronauts and there were no female military test pilots. Cobb, NASA’s first female astronaut candidate, died in Florida at the age of 88 on March 18, 2019. (AP)
In this 1960 photo made available by NASA, Jerrie Cobb prepares to operate the Multi-Axis Space Test Inertia Facility (MASTIF) at the Lewis Research Center in Ohio. The three-axis rig was developed to train Project Mercury pilots in bringing a spinning spacecraft under control. The two controllers in Cobb's hands activated small nitrogen gas thrusters that were used to bring the MASTIF under control. She was one of several female pilots who underwent the skill and endurance testing that paralleled that of the Project Mercury astronauts. In 1961 Jerrie Cobb was the first female to pass all three phases of the Mercury Astronaut Program. NASA rules, however, stipulated that only military test pilots could become astronauts and there were no female military test pilots. Cobb, NASA’s first female astronaut candidate, died in Florida at the age of 88 on March 18, 2019. (AP)
By Marcia Dunn Associated Press

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA’s first female astronaut candidate, pilot Jerrie Cobb, has died.

Cobb died in Florida at age 88 last month. News of her death came Thursday from journalist Miles O’Brien, serving as a family spokesman.

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

None of the Mercury 13 ever reached space.

Cobb served for decades as a humanitarian aid pilot in the Amazon jungle. She emerged in 1998 to make another pitch for space, as NASA prepared to launch John Glenn on shuttle Discovery at age 77. Cobb argued unsuccessfully that the research should include an older woman.

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