RIP Jerrie Cobb—America’s First Female Astronaut Candidate

Jerrie Cobb, an American hero and pioneer, passed away last month at the age of 88.

Geraldyn “Jerrie” Cobb was America’s first-ever female astronaut candidate.

Nearly 60 years ago, in 1961, Jerrie Cobb was the first woman to pass astronaut testing. However, because NASA already had Mercury 7 — an all-male group of pilots — Cobb and the 12 other women who also passed the physical testing around the same time never made it into space.

In 1962, Cobb spoke in front of a Congressional panel to plead the case for herself and the other women. The group of women astronauts later became known as Mercury 13.

She spoke to a special House subcommittee regarding the selection of astronauts saying,

“We seek, only, a place in our nation’s space future without discrimination.”

Cobb became an advocate for women in space. She once said,

“I would give my life to fly in space, I really would. It’s hard for me to talk about it, but I would. I would then, and I will now.”

Despite being snubbed by NASA, Cobb did not give up her love of flying. She spent many years of her life as a humanitarian aid pilot in the Amazon jungle.

People are saddened to hear of her passing. 

Others can’t help but reflect on the great impact she had on women in space, and ultimately women in STEM.

In her autobiography Jerrie Cobb, Solo Pilot, she wrote,

“Yes, I wish I were on the moon with my fellow pilots, exploring another celestial body.

How I would love to see our beautiful blue planet Earth floating in the blackness of space. And see the stars and galaxies in their true brilliance, without the filter of our atmosphere. But I’m happy flying here in Amazonas, serving my brethren. ‘Contenta, Senor, contenta.’ (I am happy, Lord, happy.)”

Rest in peace, Ms. Cobb. I know you are soaring amongst the stars you so wished you could have seen up close.

Read more about Cobb’s story and other women pioneers in space in Galaxy Girls: 50 Amazing Stories of Women in Space.