Apparently in 1962, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (that’s NASA) had no interest in sending women into space. They were also pretty sure that they would never need such a ridiculous program. Ladies! In space! LOL! Check out this letter, which says, “We have no existing program concerning woman astronauts nor do we contemplate any such plan.” The level of certainty with which NASA assured this applicant that they had no need for female astronauts must be more than a little embarrassing to look back on.
Unfortunately for NASA, turning down this woman was quite the missed opportunity. Just one year later, on June 16th 1963, Soviet Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space. She spent 48 orbits and 71 hours in space, which was more time than all U.S. astronauts had spent in space combined. Last month marked the 50th anniversary of Tereshkova’s trip. In a time when the Soviet and the United States were racing to achieve “space firsts,” the complete rejection of women as astronauts a mere year before Tereshkova went to space was a clear failure for the United States.
Not your finest moment, NASA.