America’s Forgotten Female Astronauts

Elizabeth Yuko in BitchMedia:

Astronaut2Last month, an all-female Russian astronaut crew spent eight days together in a mock spaceship to determine how a group of women would interact during space travel as a test run for a 2029 mission to the moon. Sadly, at a press conference preceding the experiment, reporters opted to ask questions on how they would manage without men and makeup for eight days. “We are doing work. When you're doing your work, you don't think about men and women,” noted astronaut-in-training Anna Kussmaul. Unfortunately, this treatment of women astronauts is as old as the space program itself. In the early days of space travel, much was unknown. For example, scientists were uncertain about even the basic idea of whether a human could safely exit the earth’s atmosphere, much less would happen to the human body in space. Sending people into space was the ultimate in human experimentation.

What we did know, however, was basic physics: the more weight contained in an aircraft, the more energy and fuel will be needed to propel it from earth, sustain it in space, and safely return. Because of this, women made the best candidates for space travel. It was not rocket science: On ships heading into orbit, every ounce matters. Women in general weigh less, eat less food, consume less oxygen, and therefore required less fuel to get into space. Despite the math being in their favor, women were excluded from being considered as astronauts during NASA’s earliest days. These days, women are still a minority at NASA. The team that engineered this summer’s spectacular flyby of Pluto was 25 percent women—very likely that’s the most women on any team in NASA history.

More here.