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May 29, 2018

We fact-checked Mercury 13, Netflix’s doc about NASA’s first women astronaut trainees

In April, Netflix debuted Mercury 13, a documentary about a trailblazing group of 13 women in the 1960s who could have been the first US female astronauts, if their training program hadn’t been cancelled. The doc is a touching portrait of the women pilots, but it leaves some questions unanswered.

The Mercury 13 program was not officially run by NASA. It was created by NASA physician William Randolph Lovelace, who developed the physical and psychological tests used to select NASA’s first seven male astronauts for Project Mercury. The women completed physical and psychological tests, but before they could complete the training, the privately funded program was cancelled. Why did that happen?

In the Netflix documentary, one of the female...

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