8 user 20 critic

Mercury 13 (2018)

TV-PG | | Documentary | 20 April 2018 (USA)
1:49 | Trailer
This documentary profiles women who were tested in 1961 for spaceflight, but had their dreams dashed when only men were chosen to become astronauts.
1 nomination. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Joyce Case ... Self - pilot (archive footage)
Bill Clinton ... Self (archive footage)
Hillary Clinton ... Self (archive footage)
Jerrie Cobb ... Self
Jacqueline Cochran ... Self - pilot (archive footage)
Eileen Collins ... Self - astronaut
Gordon Cooper ... Self - Mercury astronaut (archive footage)
Wally Funk ... Self
Yuri Gagarin ... Self - Soviet cosmonaut (archive footage)
John Glenn ... Self - Mercury astronaut (archive footage)
Gus Grissom ... Self - Mercury astronaut (archive footage)
Ann Hart ... Self - daughter of Janey Hart
Janey Hart ... Self - pilot (archive footage)
Jim Hart ... Self - son of Janey Hart
Gene Nora Jessen ... Self - pilot


This documentary profiles women who were tested in 1961 for spaceflight, but had their dreams dashed when only men were chosen to become astronauts.

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Meet the Women Who Dared Reach for the Stars




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Did You Know?


The Soviet Union (Russia) launched two women into Space before Sally Ride became the first American into Space onboard the Space Shuttle. Since that milestone, tragedy has claimed four women in Spaceflight accidents, including three Americans and one from India. The second American woman into Space, Judith Resnik, lost her life in the Challenger disaster and is technically, the first woman astronaut to lose her life in a Spaceflight accident. Onboard with her was Christa McAuliffe, the third American woman in Space, the first non-astronaut, but the first Teacher in Space. Both died during liftoff and as the Shuttle Challenger was "Go for Throttle up." The other two women to perish were lost aboard the Shuttle Columbia. US Navy Captain and Flight Surgeon Laurel Blair Salton Clark and Aerospace Engineer Kalpana Chawla, were both Mission Specialists onboard Shuttle Columbia. Chawla was the first woman from India in Space and was on her second mission into Space. Chawla's first mission was also aboard Columbia. The 16-day Columbia mission was Clark's first mission into Space. See more »


Reversed image. At 39:59 a TH-55 (Hughes 269) U.S. Army trainer hovers by the camera from left to right. The collective control is clearly visible in what appears to be the pilot's right hand. The collective is on the pilots left and thus the image must be reversed. See more »


Referenced in For All Mankind: Nixon's Women (2019) See more »

User Reviews

The early space program must be understood in context
15 January 2021 | by weirdquarkSee all my reviews

The Space Race was not a game. Nor was it something in the far distant future. It was deadly serious, immediate, and with far-reaching geopolitical consequences in a world where the threat of global nuclear annihilation and totalitarian communism was very real, and where much of the world was made up of non-aligned, newly independent nations trying to decide whether to ally with the West or with Moscow. Demonstrating technological superiority in space was an important tool in swaying people & nations to side with us.

The stakes were high and the list of unknowns stretched beyond the horizon. Some of the early medical examinations and experiments foisted upon astronaut candidates were truly bizarre, because nobody really knew anything about space, or what to expect, or how zero gravity or radiation would affect the human body. So they essentially made stuff up and did everything they could think of to the astronaut candidates, including lots of cameras and metal probes in places where the sun don't shine. Imagine the awkwardness of including women in such invasive and seemingly pointless examinations. Imagine the self-limiting and self-censoring effect that would have had on the early doctors and program architects who were trying to navigate their way through completely unknown territory, trying to get astronauts prepared for space.

Virtually all the astronauts were military, and served as combat fighter pilots or test pilots or both. Why? because they: 1) understood mortal danger 2) understood chain of command 3) were accustomed to long, strenuous, invasive, harsh training regimens

NASA wasn't selecting from a pool of "men" but from the pool of "fighter/test pilot". Women were excluded not primarily (or only) because they were women but because they were CIVILIAN. Why? Because women generally were not part of military combat. Why? Because our culture wasn't (and still isn't) ok with shipping millions of women off to fight, kill, bleed, and die. Men, yes. Always.

Men have always been the expendable sex to be shipped off to kill and die. We dress it up in shiny ways to make it more palatable, with stuff about "honor" "duty" etc. but the brute fact is men are expendable, so they get to die. One of the consequences of this is that occasionally, this actually leads to a benefit and privilege, like prestige assignments such as the astronaut corps. When your mortal enemy suddenly has a commanding and existentially threatening lead in space (If they can launch satellites into space, they can launch nuclear warheads into space) and you need to quickly create a human space program in response, you draw from the most appropriate existing talent pool: fighter pilots & test pilots.

Viewed in its proper historical context, crying "boo sexism! men bad!" seems utterly myopic & narcissistic, and emblematic of a sheltered 21st century perspective that wants to re-frame Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo as some kind of entitlement program that women were unfairly and deliberately excluded from, rather than something the U.S. desperately needed to succeed. The space program didn't exist to make astronauts feel good, fulfilled, and self-actualized. Astronauts were selected, trained, and used as guinea pigs so that the space program could succeed. Before asking "why weren't women *allowed* to be in the space program?", one must first ask "why weren't millions of women *allowed* to be drafted against their will to fight, kill, bleed and die, and to be used as guinea pigs in dangerous programs since time immemorial?"

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Release Date:

20 April 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Меркурий 13 See more »

Filming Locations:

Boise, Idaho, USA See more »

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Production Co:

Fine Point Films See more »
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