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The Untold Story of Women & Space History – Sue Nelson

This show is about women in space, in science and in history. It’s only becoming mainstream knowledge now that there were many women involved in global space programs in the 1960s. As part of the Mercury 13, Wally Funk was one of the pioneering women of space travel who often outperformed male astronaut candidates in tests of endurance. But just one week before the final phase of training, the programme was abruptly cancelled. Politics and prejudice meant Wally never flew into space. Undeterred, she went on to become an accomplished pilot and America’s first female aviation safety inspector.

Today’s guest, Sue Nelson, is a physicist who has authored a book about Wally Funk and her colleagues of Mercury 13. You’ll be shocked when you hear what they went through just to take the tests – from being divorced by their husbands to losing their jobs, these ladies pursued space and science at immense personal cost. Sue wrote this book to bring their stories, experiences and learnings to a broad audience, in the hope of inspiring girls to pursue their dreams in science, and ensuring that the huge sacrifices and contributions that female aviators have made do not get left out of history books.

Sue Nelson is an award-winning science journalist and broadcaster, formerly a BBC science correspondent and Radio 4 presenter. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

This episode was made possible by the generous support of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Sue Nelson was a guest author of this year’s edition, where she talked about her new book Wally Funk’s Race For Space. Gift it widely!

Read the Transcript

Note: While When Women Win is produced as an audio recording, we are delighted to produce transcripts for those who are unable to hear. Kindly note that these are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Media is encouraged to check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

Rana Nawas: (00:00)
Hi everyone. I’m trying out a new format today. Before the guest’s intro, I’m going to share my thoughts about the subject matter. This is to provide you with some more context on the episode. Please do let me know what you think. 19%, that’s the percentage of today’s Computer Science graduates who are female. Would you believe that this is half the number of 1985? Yes. Even in the aftermath of feminism in the 1970s, the percentage of women studying Computer Science has dropped drastically over the past few decades. The picture is similar for physics. Now this is bad for science and bad for society. So you ask, well, why is it happening? We get into this towards the end of the episode. Our societal construct includes gender toys, storybooks of pretty princesses and brave knights and history books that ignore women and their contributions to science and society. But this is all just a construct. There’s absolutely no biological barrier to women becoming Nobel Prize winning scientists. We just have to stop discouraging girls from going into STEM subjects.


So today’s show is about women in space, in science, and in history. It’s only becoming mainstream knowledge now that there were many women involved in global space programs in the 1960s as part of the Mercury 13. Wally Funk was one of the pioneering women of space travel, frequently outperforming male astronaut candidates in tests of endurance. But just one week before the final phase of training, the program was abruptly cancelled. Politics and prejudice meant Wally never flew into space. Undeterred, she went on to become an accomplished Pilot and America’s first female Aviation Safety Inspector. Today’s guests on the show is Sue Nelson, a physicist who has authored a book about Wally Funk and her colleagues of Mercury 13. You’ll be shocked when you hear what they went through just to take the tests, from being divorced by their husbands to losing their jobs. These ladies pursued space and Science at immense personal cost. Sue wrote this book to bring their stories, experiences, and learnings to a broad audience and the hope of inspiring girls to pursue their dreams in Science and ensuring that the huge sacrifices and contributions that the female aviators of the 1960s made do not get left out of history books. Nelson is an award winning Science Journalist and Broadcaster, formerly a BBC Science Correspondent and Radio for Presenter. So let’s get into it.

Rana Nawas: (02:44)
Sue, thank you so much for taking the time to come on When Women Win. I know you have an action packed schedule here at the Emirates Literature Festival.

Sue Nelson: (02:52)
Thank you!

Rana Nawas: (02:53)
Right Stuff, Wrong Sex: Female Astronauts. Over 20 years ago you produced and presented a documentary by that title. Why did you pick that title?

Sue Nelson: (03:01)
I was living in New York and I was freelancing as a Journalist and I had always been into space and knew a reasonable amount about space history. Then I was reading a newspaper and all of a sudden, just literally two or three lines, referred to the Mercury 13 and it just said the group of women who trained in secret to be astronauts in 1960-61 and my jaw literally hit the floor. I was just like, what? Why haven’t I heard about these women? And that sort of started me on a Lord of the Rings style quest in that as a result of just seeing those three lines. I started doing reseatch and I found out that some of the women were still alive, sold the program Veyron Independent Company to BBC radio four and then ended up presenting and producing a documentary about tracking down as many women as I could. And at that point, even some of them had already died, even then over 20 years ago. And the women I did manage to track down were Gerry True Hill, Sarah Rackley, Irene Levitan, who sadly has now died, and Wally Funk. So that was when I first met Wally and my sort of journey began, on writing a book about her and her becoming my friend.

Rana Nawas: (04:27)
Wow. 20 year journey. Okay. So Wally Funk, who is she?

Sue Nelson: (04:32)
She’s a force of nature, that’s who she is. She is an Aviator. First and foremost, she’s a Pilot. She still flies planes. She’s 80 years old. She still goes flying and she was an astronaut candidate in 1960-61 when the call came out for female aviators to take the same tests as the Mercury Seven male astronauts that included John Glenn. She took those tests, she passed those tests and never got to go into space. So she continued her career as an Aviator and in fact, broke barriers in her career. She was the first woman in America to become an Aircraft Safety Inspector and also the first woman to become an Aircraft Crash Investigator. And so when in the late 70’s, there was a terrible air crash; a passenger jet between LA and San Diego crashed above a residential district in San Diego. About 144 people were killed. And Wally was the first person, the first Investigator on the scene at the time. That was the worst aviation accident in history.

Rana Nawas: (05:50)
Yeah. Tough job. I would like to go back to why she didn’t end up in space. So she and a group of other women, 13 women together…

Sue Nelson: (05:58)
Yeah, that’s why they are called Mercury 13.

Rana Nawas: (05:58)
So they went through all this testing that the men had gone through, exactly the same test and all of them did well.

Sue Nelson: (06:05)
Oh yeah. Well 29 in total took the tests, 13 passed, which was a better ratio, actually, a better pass rate than the men because it happens and the women were all aviators. They took the tests. Their tests were devised and administered by a guy called Dr Randall’s Lovelace in New Mexico who had also devised the tests for the Mercury Seven. So they went through exactly the same test, but with it actually, they had slightly more because they had gotten a gynaecological test as well. The reason they didn’t go into space, at the time, was because society wasn’t ready for them, at the time. NASA did not admit women in 1960-61 and in fact, NASA didn’t admit women until 1978 and unfortunately for the women there, they were all ready to take part in the space program. They’d passed the tests and for some of them, that came at great personal costs. Gerry True Hill was given an ultimatum by her husband; it’s either the test or me and she went for the test. She came back to divorce papers.

Rana Nawas: (07:17)
Oh My God.

Sue Nelson: (07:17)
Several of the women also lost their jobs because they had to give up their jobs in order to do it, although we refused permission to take time off. So they said okay. And they did it anyway. So they were very patriotic and determined to do well. And when the program lost its private funding, because it wasn’t a NASA program, it was a privately funded program, that was the end of their dreams. And for most of them, they went on and just carried on with their amazing careers in aviation anyway. It has only been Wally that has persistently kept up her dream of going into space. But two years after they passed their tests, all of them had passed, the Soviets beat them to it and put Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. So America missed their trick there, in many ways because they’d already been beaten. Yuri Gagarin was the first person in space. Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space and you know, EVA even got the first spacewalker. So there was a space race at the time and America effectively shot themselves in the foot by not allowing these highly qualified women, some of whom had more flying experience than John Glenn to take part. The sort of excuse at the time was, well they don’t have jet experience because the men had to have jet experience, but the women, at that time, were not allowed to fly jets. So you know, that’s an excuse really.

Rana Nawas: (08:54)
How did it come about that this program was privately funded? I mean, what was the thinking there that didn’t admit women?

Sue Nelson: (09:01)
Because it was all through Randy Lovelace who is quite a hero in that respect because without him, this wouldn’t have happened. He had administered the tests for the men and wanted, I think as of scientific curiosity and medical curiosity, to see if a woman’s body could withstand the same tests and go into space. So he asked an Aviator who was one of the most famous Aviators, female Aviator at the time, called Jerry Kolbe, if she would like to take part. And she did. And not only did she pass, but her test scores were higher than 99% of the men. And these are the men who went into space. These are the men who had passed and who eventually did go into space. So he wanted to see, like a good scientist, if that was a one off or if that was just one exceptional woman or if this reflects women as a whole? So he basically effectively did another experiment and got a larger data set of women. Unsure enough, they were more than good. They’re exceptional. And this was funded by Jackie Cochran. She put money into it. Yes, she was the woman who broke the sound barrier, the first woman to break sound barrier with Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier as a Chase Pilot. She had been a very famous Aviator and was a really well-known. She was actually too old to take part in the tests herself. The age range they gave was 25 to 40, same as the men. Jackie was in her fifties by then. So she couldn’t do it herself, but she wanted, obviously, to be a part of it and she was effectively, her husband was a millionaire, but so was she. She had run a very successful cosmetics business, so she was very wealthy and was prepared to fund the expenses and living expenses that were necessary for the women to take the tests and travel.

Rana Nawas: (11:07)
Well, given what happens later, why would she…well maybe we should talk about that later. Maybe you should tell the listeners a bit about how the story of Jackie Cochran goes.

Sue Nelson: (11:17)
There was another phase of testing that was due to begin, which was really the easy part compared to what they’d just gone through. With just days to go, they all got a telegram saying “it’s cancelled, program cancelled.” And that was devastating for several of them. Two of them decided to take it a step further and go to the government, get a committee hearing to try and get NASA to admit women, using themselves as examples. And for the first time, this was in 1963, their identities were made known because most of the women did not know who the other women were, whereas the Mercury Seven all took their tests together. And in fact, if you’ve seen the film, The Right Stuff, or read the book, The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe which is a brilliant book and a great film, you see, they are very them, totally memorable images of these men all suffering in pain together because their tests were painful. They push them to their physical extremes.

Rana Nawas: (12:28)
They did exactly the same to the women.

Sue Nelson: (12:30)
Yeah, they did exactly the same to the women. But the women didn’t do that. They got the women two by two, a week at a time. And in fact, Wally’s, the woman who was partnered with Wally, found it so tough that within hours she pulled out. So Wally actually took all those tests by herself. So she, unlike the men, had no other company or support or encouragement to do it. So that was the first time in 1963, that for some of them, they realized the identities of the others. In some cases, they did know because two of them at Mercury 13 were twins.

Rana Nawas: (13:10)

Sue Nelson: (13:10)
So obviously they did know and I think Wally had recommended Genera Jessen, a Pilot, to do it. And in fact, it passed. So obviously, Wally knew the identity of at least one.

Rana Nawas: (13:26)
Okay. So they came together and put a lawsuit forward or a congressional hearing?

Sue Nelson: (13:31)
Yes. It was a subcommittee hearing that involved Jerry Cobb, the first woman to pass the test and Janie Hart, who was another member of the Mercury 13, who was the oldest to pass the test. She was 40 years old, she had eight children and she was married to a senator. So she had the confidence and probably the contacts to know that this is the format and how you would get a hearing. They spoke at the hearing very eloquently and very passionately in favor of why women should be part of NASA. And the third person to speak on their behalf was Jackie Cochran. The three men who spoke against them were two of the Mercury Seven astronauts, Scott Carpenter and John Glenn. John Glenn said it was against the social order…

Rana Nawas: (14:18)
Against the social order to have women in space?

Sue Nelson: (14:19)
Yes, yes, to have women in space. And Jackie was supposed to be part of the team women. Slightly and comprehensively, she ended up effectively scoring an own goal by saying that, “yes, women should go into space, but maybe the time isn’t right just yet.”

Rana Nawas: (14:40)
What? Why would she do that?

Sue Nelson: (14:41)
I mean, nobody knows that. She’s not alive now to do it. Many of the women who were still alive still hold, quite understandably, a grudge against Jackie for doing that. Some have suggested it might have been professional jealousy because she had been famous. She was quite a powerful woman, used to being the center of attention, and the one very famous as an Aviator. I mean, who knows? I don’t know, but some of the reasons that I’ve heard from some of the women that maybe she just didn’t want to be on the sidelines because she wasn’t going to be allowed it.

Rana Nawas: (15:28)

Sue Nelson: (15:28)
In fairness to Jackie, it could also maybe have been some of the stereotyping of women at the time kicking in because men had been in America, had been going to the Korean War and women were still seen as nurturers and more likely to have a career, if they did have a career at all. It was usually marriage that was considered your full-time job and being a parent; you would be doing nursing, teaching and being a secretary. So although she broke barriers in a heroin way, Jackie Cochran, maybe that did sort of kick in, thinking well maybe let the man go first and then the women go. Maybe. Maybe I’m being too kind, who knows?

Rana Nawas: (16:12)
At this point, the men hadn’t yet gone into space.?

Sue Nelson: (16:14)
The Mercury Seven went into space in the 60s because the first one in space was Eureka Garden in 1961.

Rana Nawas: (16:22)
So back to Wally Funk, why did you write this book?

Sue Nelson: (16:26)
I wrote it for several reasons. I wanted the history of the Mercury 13 to be more commonly known. There are a couple of books about the Mercury 13 in America and I’ve read them and they’re great, but they have quite a limited audience. I think you have to seek those books out. I think, certain women, who are interested in women’s history and feminist, like myself, would know about it. But I wanted something that would perhaps bring it to a broader audience. And I also wanted to tell a story that involved women in history of space as well, but specifically about Wally and through her eyes, because we met up again in 2016 when I was making a radio program about going back to the moon and I wanted Wally to be a contributor, and it was the commissioning editor, he is the one who said ‘no, she should be the presenter.” And I said, “why?” And he said, “because every time you say her name, you smile.” And it was an inspired choice. It could have been a disaster because producing someone who’d never presented a radio program is hard work, no matter who it is. Wally would talk to you in a certain way. She’s got a very distinctive accent, but when it came to reading, her emphasis was always on the wrong words. And so I would give her a little bit of script and say, “okay, I just want you to read this link about…don’t say,” and she’d go, “okay, okay.” And then she’d go, “in (with emphasis) the 60s (with emphasis) I went (with emphasis) to NASA”…” And I was just listening, thinking “Oh My Goodness, what do I do?” So we’d retake it and say, “okay, we’ll do that again. Let’s make it a little bit more conversational. And maybe you could put the emphasis on this.” And she was totally up for it. She works so hard, but it would take sometimes 8-10 minutes to get one 20 seconds clip.

Rana Nawas: (18:50)
And this is 2016, so she was 77.

Sue Nelson: (18:54)
Yeah, yeah. I mean she’s totally up for anything. What she was brilliant at, I would, I would say… We went to The Kennedy Space Center and we went into the bookshop and we were looking on the shelves of all the books and I said, “I’ll record you, just tell me what you see.” And then that’s when she was superb, without being scripted. So she would suddenly go, “here I am. I’m in the bookstore and what’s this book? First man on the moon? Rocket man? The men of Apollo? Well, what do you know? There’s nothing about the women, the Mercury 13 here.” And she was just gorgeous, absolutely brilliant just through being herself. And I wanted all this stuff to be part of the book because she asked me, “would you write my biography?” I thought about it. And after a couple of days I said, “I’m sorry, no.” And she looked quite hard and said, “why not?” We were actually on a train at the time of Eurostar going to Paris, to the European Space Agency. She was driving me nuts with nonstop questions. I timed the silences between her questions because she always asks, “what’s this? What type of tracks are these? What are you doing? What are we listening? Do you know how this works?” It was a five hours trip. We went to Brussels first then to Cologne to the Astronaut Training Center. And then the longest time she didn’t speak was two minutes and 15 seconds.

Rana Nawas: (20:27)

Sue Nelson: (20:28)
So I wanted all this flaws and all. Sometimes I was more bickering with her and telling her “quiet, Wally. Stop it.” No one would do that. And she would exaggerate sometimes and say “I’m the only one of the mercury 13 who’s alive!” And I go, “no you’re not!” And she would go, “oh, oh, oh, right!” Because she just sometimes forget. And I sort of wanted all that because once you’ve met her, you cannot forget her. I have never met any woman like her. I’d probably never will. I’ve met other members of the Mercury 13, they are not like Wally. So I wanted all that color and that’s why it was brave of her to let me do it that way because it might not appear totally flattering all the time. But I think she has seen, thankfully, as have other people who’ve read it, that she comes alive. You get a sense of what she was like, how extraordinary she is. Her grit, her determination and her personality. And that’s actually how I’ve done, from a place of huge affection and love.

Rana Nawas: (21:47)
You also made films or you currently make films for the European Space Agency?

Sue Nelson: (21:52)

Rana Nawas: (21:52)
What kind of films?

Sue Nelson: (21:53)
Well, they’re based on their missions. So at the moment, for instance, there is a launch happening towards the end of this year of a telescope called CHEOPS, which will look at exoplanets. These are planets that have already been identified on other missions that are outside our solar system. And they’re looking for planets outside our solar system to find out more about them and see whether they’ve got the right conditions for life. So while we interview some of the scientists who are on the mission, we’ll use animation, perhaps it’s been produced by the people about the launch, and then put it together in sort of three minutes package, a TV package that explains what the mission is about, what the science is about and then that goes on ESAtv and then gets provided to broadcasters. So, it’s sort of interestingly the reverse of the job that I did when I was a BBC Science Correspondent because I was sometimes using some of the material that they would provide, when I would report on Space Missions for the BBC. So it’s quite nice because it uses my scientific knowledge and most journalists have a lifelong love of learning. I think it just goes with the territory. So I’m always learning something new about the mission. I’m also doing something on EXO Mars, which is Europe’s first mission to Mars with a rover. And what else am I doing? Oh, Solar Orbiter. I was in Munich last week looking at the solar orbiter spacecraft and that’s going to study the sun.

Rana Nawas: (23:43)
Well let’s bring it back NASA. What was your first ever interaction with NASA?

Sue Nelson: (23:49)
I wrote to them when I was 13 years old, in the 70s, and asked them how I could become an Astronaut because I was space mad. I always loved Star Trek and seeing women as Scientists on the deck, going to London parties, to different planets, seeing Uhura. I loved Uhura on the deck of the USS Enterprise. For me, it was an ideal version of the future that I wanted to have. I wanted to be in a world where women were seen as equals, where women didn’t have subjects that were deemed not for them, you know, that science was considering a male world. And here was this version and vision of the future where women could do anything; they were equal to their male counterparts.

Rana Nawas: (24:45)
But at the age of 13 you didn’t think of it that way, did you?

Sue Nelson: (24:49)
Oh, yeah.

Rana Nawas: (24:49)
Oh, you did? Okay. Wow!

Sue Nelson: (24:51)
Yeah, yeah. Oh yeah.

Rana Nawas: (24:53)
Because it contrasted with your current environment?

Sue Nelson: (24:55)
Yes. It didn’t reflect what I saw. I was very lucky though, in that when I was at school, I went to a girls grammar school, passed to get into that, and I was lucky in that my teacher, my Physics Teacher was brilliant and my Physics Teacher was also a woman, which again, you don’t realize, until afterwards, how unusual that was,

Rana Nawas: (25:20)
And how important a role model is.

Sue Nelson: (25:22)
Oh, yes! So, in fact, when I did A Level Physics, there were about a hundred girls in the sixth form because at that time you could leave school at 16, 33 of us did A Level Physics. About 10 years ago, I was at the Royal Society in London interviewing people and I came across a stand and there were a couple of girls there and it said, “we’re all grammar school for girls.” And I went, “oh, hello,” I said, “I went to your school” and we had a nice chat. And I said, ‘oh, my Physics Teacher was Mrs. Schwartz.” And they said, “oh, she’s our Physics Teacher.” And I was like, “oh my goodness, this is great. So, how many girls do physics now?” And they looked at me and their expression was one of utter confusion. And I went, “what’s up?” And they said, “we are it.” And I went, “what? Three girls doing physics A Level, what has gone wrong?” That from the 70’s to now, when it’s the same teacher who was excellent, something’s going wrong in society. I mean Physics…they know there’s an issue. Same with Engineering. In Biology, you get loads of women. In Biochemistry, you get loads of women, somehow. But Physics, same with Maths and Engineering, despite feminism, despite the 70’s, despite what’s going on, somehow they are not seen as a subject that women can be a part of.

Rana Nawas: (26:56)
Yeah. Today, I think it’s 19% of Computer Science graduates are female, that’s half the number of 1985.

Sue Nelson: (27:03)
It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it’s a problem that has to be addressed. Funny enough, I just reviewed a book for the Financial Times. I wrote the review on the plane coming to Dubai that was by a Neuroscientist called Gina Ripon and it’s called “The Gendered Brain.” I found it utterly mesmerizing and brilliant. It was readable and it was filled with examples on one really important issue that came out of it, which was not just how flawed the science was, which a lot of people base their false ideas of, like, “oh, women’s brains are different. Women can’t read maps. Men do this, men do this.” Most of it is nonsense. Actually when you examine the statistics of how important the social environment is for women, which he did, but that actually, the social circumstances that you’re brought in, if you’re a young girl or a woman, and you’re brought up in an environment that tells you that even if you just click it socially without it even being said, that this is not for you, that the pink is only for girls, the building bricks are only for boys. This plays a crucial effect on the leaky pipeline. It’s not so much of whether our brains are wired differently or taught at all. And so this is where lots of the stuff… And it horrifies me, quite frankly. I complained to a TESCO about five years ago. When I was walking down the aisle and it said “boys toys,” and “girls toys,” and in the boys’ toys shelves there was the science kit, the chemistry kit, the “grow your own crystals” kit, the telescope. I was livid, absolutely livid. And on the girls’ toys, it was all nonsense, all the stuff I would have hated as a child, you know, paint your nails, your beauty kit and I think, “come on, give us a break.” You know, even bicycles…I’d been in a bicycle shop where I overheard a boy saying, “no, I’m not having that. That’s a girl’s bike.” And I turn round expecting to see a pink bike. It was red. I thought, “Oh My God, we got to the stage where even a shade of bloody pink is now considered a red. A red? A red is considered a gendered colored?” This is ridiculous. And it’s these sort of, I think, very damaging social constructs that women are surrounded by that is, incredibly damaging and limiting. That’s the thing, it limits what a woman and what a girl will aspire to. And I think that’s partly why we’re in the mess we are in today.

Rana Nawas: (30:00)
I agree. And you know, when you get later in life and you talk about it, everybody says, “oh women have limiting beliefs, you must let go of your limiting beliefs.” These beliefs didn’t just sort of come up inside us, right? These beliefs are imposed by, as you said, a societal construct.

Sue Nelson: (30:14)
They’re surrounding women every day. And it takes a lot of courage…there’s still a lot of work. I think we’ve done it. We’re here. It’s good. And actually, no, there are things that you take for granted. They need to be reminded and like women’s history, it has to be said, sadly again and again and again. It has to be repeated. Women and girls have to be aware of what women can do, what women have done. Women have, done, absolutely in the past in order to be able to fulfill their own destinies.

Rana Nawas: (30:55)
Did NASA ever write back?

Sue Nelson: (30:56)
They did.

Rana Nawas: (30:57)
What did they say?

Sue Nelson: (30:58)
They sent me a lovely letter encouraging me to carry on studying Physics, which I did. What they didn’t mention was that I couldn’t have been an Astronaut for them anyway because I was British and NASA is American. That hadn’t occurred to me. And also that in 1974, they didn’t actually admit women Astronauts. They didn’t admit women until 1978, amazingly late when you consider that the Russians had sent up their women in 1963.

Rana Nawas: (31:28)
But it’s good they didn’t tell you though, right?

Sue Nelson: (31:32)
Yeah, yeah. But what they also did was they said, “as you’re so interested, please, here’s a technical manual for our new space plane,” which I have in my attic somewhere. It is a very, probably, browning pieces of paper with all the technical specifications of the space shuttle.

Rana Nawas: (31:55)
Oh, wow! Compelling readings.

Sue Nelson: (31:58)
Yeah. Yeah.

Rana Nawas: (32:00)
Sue, where can listeners find your work and buy Wally Funk’s Race for Space?

Sue Nelson: (32:05)
Well, if they want to know more about the history of women in space, the Mercury 13, the sexism that women have encountered along the way and Wally’s dream, which she bought a ticket. She spent $200,000 with Virgin Galactic to go into space…

Rana Nawas: (32:21)
Oh my God! I hope she gets to go!

Sue Nelson: (32:23)
And hopefully, at the age of 80, she will go within the next year.

Rana Nawas: (32:26)
Okay. $200,000?

Sue Nelson: (32:29)
Yes. She spent all her savings and her inheritance on doing this. This is how she determined this woman is. So yeah, if you can get it via online or bookshops, please do. And it’s important to get it into a library. It’s important that other people can learn about history and realize that space does not…it seems space feels very macho; it’s the first man on the moon. It’s often called manned space flight and it’s only recently, particularly with books like Hidden Figures that realized that not only were women there as Engineers, there was a woman in the control room and that there were also women who were ready to be Astronauts.

Rana Nawas: (33:13)
We’re going to have loads of links to everything you talked about, in the show notes and my call to action for the listeners is to seek out the information on what women have done in history, specifically in space. Spread the word. Get this book and gift it.

Sue Nelson: (33:28)
Oh yeah, absolutely. Because you know, we must not forget women’s history of any kind. You’ve got to know your history.

Rana Nawas: (33:40)
Sue thank you so much for your time! It was such a pleasure!

Sue Nelson: (33:41)
You’re welcome!

Rana Nawas: (33:43)
I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. I’d love to hear from you so please head over to to give feedback. While you’re there, you can find all episodes and show notes and sign up for our monthly newsletter. Wherever you’re listening right now, do remember to hit the subscribe button to be notified of future episodes, and please write a review when you can, to let others know what to expect. Thanks, and have a great day!

End Of Transcript