Top positive review
An Excellent History of the Early Space Age!
Reviewed in the United States on February 22, 2020
In “Fighting for Space: Two Pilots and Their Historic Battle for Female Spaceflight,” Amy Shira Teitel brilliantly recounts the lives and work of Jackie Cochran and Jerrie Cobb, two pioneering women pilots whose place on the forefront of aviation naturally led them to look to space with the dawn of the Space Age. Unfortunately, they faced the same entrenched sexism that initially stymied their attempts to become pilots, though at a far greater bureaucratic level. Jackie, having worked to establish herself as a pilot, businesswoman, and leader of the WASPS in World War II, hoped to accumulate a wealth of data in support of her cause. She therefore enlisted her friend and physician Randy Lovelace, who was part of the team that tested NASA’s Mercury astronauts. The Lovelace tests replicated the same physical and psychological tests the astronauts underwent, with Jerrie undergoing the tests herself since she was determined to get into space. Despite much positive publicity, Teitel draws upon the records of then-Vice President Lyndon Johnson and NASA administrator Jim Webb to examine how NASA was struggling to find the best way to advance its lunar mission and viewed any program other than that goal as an expense of resources. Further, entrenched patriarchal views about what women’s role, if any, should be in the space program hindered their efforts from the start while political squabbling during Congressional hearings led to further setbacks. “Fighting for Space” is Teitel’s second book after “Breaking the Chains of Gravity: The Story of Spaceflight before NASA” and demonstrates her background in cultural history and the history of science as well as her ability to narrate events so that historical figures feel more present. Teitel’s work will appeal to those studying the history of science as well as readers more casually interested in spaceflight history.