CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s first female astronaut candidate, pilot Jerrie Cobb, has died. Cobb was a fierce advocate for women and a noted aviation pioneer.
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.
The woman passed preliminary screening processes in 1960 and 1960 to determine their suitability as NASA astronauts. Cobb scored in the top two percent of all who had taken the battery of tests for candidates previously, including men and woman.
Unfortunately, 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.