The race for space began with Russia’s launch of Sputnik, the world’s first space satellite, on October 4, 1957. This launch caught the attention of the United States for multiple reasons; not only did this mean that Russia had surpassed the US in space technology, but it also signified that Russia had the capability of launching nuclear weapons at the US, which held particular importance during the time of the Cold War. This launch was a pivotal point in the formation of the US space program, as the United States became determined to put a man on the moon first.
Initially, many advocated for the benefits of sending women into space first. Because women generally weighed less, ate less, and therefore used less oxygen, their launch would take less fuel. Despite these concerns, it took much longer for women to venture into space. The screening for potential astronauts was referred to as the Lovelace Mercury Test, which consisted of 75 different extensive tests. While this initially began with military pilots, because women were not permitted to serve in the military, Lovelace had to look elsewhere to find potential candidates who were women. Of the 19 women who were tested, 13 passed, and oftentimes exceeded men in their results. For example, prospective astronauts were given “isolation tests” in which they were placed in chambers ...
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... failure of the shuttle the Challenger. During this flight, Christa McAuliffe, who was chosen by NASA to pioneer the Teacher in Space program, as well as Judy Resnik from the 35 new guys, both died when the shuttle broke apart and crashed into the ocean. The sad truth that women had both died and lived in space proved their growing equality with men in the program.
By the 1990s, women in space had largely become normalized, a feat that is arguably almost as important as their first landing in space. Despite initial discrimination that women faced, they grew to form imperative parts of NASA’s space program, both in the shuttle and behind the scenes in Mission Control. This feat has played a pivotal role in women’s growing advancement in the professional sphere, specifically in the field of science, though some inequality still exists within the discipline.
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