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Fighting for Space: Pilots Jackie Cochran and Jerrie Cobb

Part of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, Because of Her Story

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, May 26, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1L0392
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Amy Shira Teitel (Photo: Jeaneen Lund)

When the space age dawned in the late 1950s, Jackie Cochran held more propeller and jet flying records than any pilot of the 20th century—man or woman. She had led the Women's Auxiliary Service Pilots during WWII, was the first woman to break the sound barrier, ran her own luxury cosmetics company, and counted multiple presidents among her friends. She was more qualified than any woman in the world to make the leap from atmosphere to orbit. Yet it was Jerrie Cobb, 25 years Cochran’s  junior and a record-holding pilot in her own right, who finagled her way into taking the same medical tests as the Mercury astronauts. The prospect of flying in space quickly became her obsession.

As the American and international media fell in love with the idea of a nonexistent  “woman astronaut" program, Cochran and Cobb struggled to gain control of the narrative, each hoping to turn the rumored program into their own ideal reality—an issue that ultimately went all the way to Congress.

Drawing on her new book Fighting for Space: Two Pilots and Their Historic Battle for Female Spaceflight, space historian and television host Amy Shira Teitel tells the fascinating story of these trailblazers who spent years as adversaries in search of the same goal: creating a place for women in the male-dominated arena of aviation and space flight.

Copies of Fighting for Space (Grand Central Publishing) are available for purchase.

Book Sale Information

  • Purchase your copy of Fighting for Space by Amy Shira Teitel here.
  • SPECIAL NOTE: Politics and Prose is offering a 10% discount to Smithsonian Associates ticket-holders. To claim your discount, enter the code SPECIAL10 (no space between letters and numbers) in the “Coupon discount” section on Politics and Prose's check-out page.

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American Women's History Initiative

This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.