Mercury 13 was a privately-sponsored programme to assess and train women pilots to become astronauts in the 1960s. Thirteen women passed the tests which their male counterparts in Mercury 7 also underwent. In many cases, the women performed better than the men. Wally Funk was one of those women. Her story has been told in the book, Wally Funk's Race for Space. However, when NASA realised that this programme existed, it was abruptly halted. A government hearing was held. Evidence was given. The training programme was cancelled and these amazing women never realised their dream for which they had worked so hard. The documentary, Mercury 13 on Netflix tells this story.
This new design of bags is a tribute to and to bring awareness of these amazing women. The design elements each tell a different story:
- the rocket ship represents the Apollo 11 vehicle;
- the M13 characters represent the women pilots of the training programme;
- the waxing crescent moon represents the shape of the moon viewed from Earth on 20th July 1969, the date Apollo 11 landed;
- the seemingly random pattern of stars is actually an interpretation of the constellation of Virgo. As Apollo 11 took off, the moon lay in Leo. As the spacecraft landed on the moon, it lay in Libra. Virgo had been bypassed; and finally
- the vertical lines represent computer code. Without the work of many women including the BIPOC American computer programmers, mathematicians, engineers and physicists which I learnt about through the book and film, Hidden Figures, the space programme would have never left the ground.
On 16th July 1969, Apollo 11 took off from Earth. It landed on the moon on Saturday 20th July at 20:17 GMT. These bags will be for sale on Saturday 20th July 2019 at 21:17 Edinburgh time.
Nelson, S (2018) Wally Funk's Race for Space Westbourne Press
Netflix Studios (2018) Mercury 13
Shetterley, M L (2016) Hidden Figures William Morrow & Company
Please note that 10% of the sale price of this collection of bags will be donated to the STEM charity, Code to Inspire.