In 1960, NASA tested the first female trainees for astronaut duty. Of the top 25 US women pilots in the country at the time 13 passed the same testing that male candidates. All were subsequently found fit and were scheduled to be part of the Mercury space program. Unfortunately NASA suddenly canceled its testing of women pilots in July 1961. The put in a requirement for all Mercury astronauts to undergo jet training at Edwards Air Force Base. Unfortunately, instruction at Edwards was not available for women, and this meant that the program was essentially closed to the women pilots.
These outstanding “Mercury 13” candidates deserve much credit for preparing the way for American women in space. They were: Jerrie Cobb, Rhea Allison, Jane Hart, Mary Wallace Funk, Jean Hixson, Myrtle Cagle, Irene Leverton, Sarah Gorelick, twins Jan and Marion Dietrich, Gene Stumbough, Bernice Steadman, and Gerry Sloan Truhill. If you’re interested here’s some links for more information: