Sarah Ratley: A space program pioneer

Kansas City's Morning News
Friday, June 1st

Sarah Ratley was one of the original Mercury 13, a group of women who blazed the trail for future female astronauts

00:09:47

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Kansas city's morning news weekday mornings five to ten on Newsnight EA one KM BZ I mean. KM BZ dot com and now. Our person of the week they were the most famous men in America. New breed. Let's just ambitious to. Patriotic beyond question. Seven men who became the face of America's space program. And while they had the right stuff. Where did the right choice. Why do you think there is a need for women to inspect. Well it's the same I guess there's just barely manage things. You heard darn its and a human being in this state breaches and the one most qualified and wall the Mercury astronauts were training getting ready for spaceflight the Mercury thirteen were beginning their training to. We went through the initial physical exams. Ed Lovelace foundation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is the same facility that tested the male astronaut. Sarah rat only lives in Kansas City and she was one of thirteen women chosen ostensibly to train for space flight just like the man. Is he put you do those crazy test we all saw it in the right stuff real liken it centrifuge been whipped around at all so they. The distinction pretty crazy steps especially the women. I think you know what to expect. That some of the girls even exceeded the male candidate showed that the test themselves well they were just extremely thorough both physical and psychological. The psychological. Thing what they want to see if you would panic and down get claustrophobia. But none of this kid. Now he's just bound determined to pass and I didn't care where they threw at me surprised ever heard of the Mercury thirteen Canadians seen the documentary about the women on Netflix and and how cool for us that we have one of these would be astronauts right here in Kansas City you are. Far from the typical woman of that era. The bride in a lot of my classes ever assume anything on the class where it was more fun that way. And she met the job requirements perfectly where they were requiring initially. Were out college degree 15100 hours flying time they were. Requesting that the out college major being one of the scams subjects my major was in mathematics. With physics and chemistry miners. And they were acquiring were crying for some kind of an engineering background. And I had some mechanical engineering courses and at that time. That is doing electrical engineering at AT&T. Deal yet did we mention that she could flight to I started flying about in 48. I was and high school and I was kind of a mirror. There's a thing called the civil air patrol and I joined that. What we would do his work for four hours again your reserve records actor for X airport. And that ex military pilots. Would fly to keep current in the afternoon so we worked for hours. Piling things we got to write that T sixes. In the backseat. Personally wearing skirts you know women or skirts in the season. Nothing like wearing a parachute with a skirt. When she started flying she paid six dollars an hour for the airplane the fuel and the instructor six bucks. It's well over a 150 an hour today. So how come we've never heard of the Mercury thirteen when did they climb the gantry and blasted to space. We'll tell you next. My name is there Iran play patent and I was one of the thirteen women who tried to be astronauts back in 1960. And what do you mean tried to be astronauts well at the time in this book exclusively may yields. And we were trying to break the glass ceiling and get every one. Eligible to be an astronaut. Because of their attributes not because of their physical nature. And these women all driven all skill all ambitious loved what they were trying to do in love doing it with each other. Did you bond with these women. Yes we became more or less like a sorority. And we do a lot of us got together in two trips together after we may have money another. At first the program is extremely secretive bit later years we got to know one another after several. Meetings we would take trips stay in each other's houses and have all kinds of when it's kind of like a sorority skills drive the camaraderie. They had adult. Including disappointment. When did you realize this isn't gonna go anywhere well we never really gave up hope. How we got the telegram right before we were supposed to go down to Pensacola. And of course when Janie hard. And I'd Jerry Cobb went before congress and tried to get to so that women would be included in the program. We were kept on hoping. And even after a day he didn't really succeed. We still kept hoping and they had good reason the extensive testing they'd gone through the same testing get all the male astronauts endured. Revealed something that some might be found surprising and they found out that women might even be superior because Hoover smaller. We took up place aux Jack and he wouldn't take as much stress to get this happened space there. This match law rocket fuel and when we are out there we consumed less oxygen who has the final say in this who stopped the program. Lyndon Johnson was present at the time and there was. A letter from then NASA director Russia and Chile continuing. Lyndon Johnson broke right at the bottom let's kill list now. That stopped this now. Because. At the time of the feeling it was a Camelot kind of the situation. I like John Glynn said men in May and go off to war and women to stay home. And at that time women were not accepted. As military pilots. Or at that he service academies. And what we tried to do you know someone has to lead the way. And we were trying to lead the way. And break that glass ceiling so that women would be accepted for what they could offer and bring to the programs. None of the Mercury thirteen ever made it into space but that doesn't mean they didn't change the world. I was very proud when the women were accepted. We're just mission specialist. That we failed exceptionally good when Eileen Collins went as a pilot. And we felt and that we've been redeemed that not all our efforts have been in vain. Were you watching the day that Sally ride first went into space yes I was very happy for her and dumped. I participated in a scam program with her at you than Casey many years ago. Eileen Collins perhaps none as well known as Sally ride the first American woman in space. But Eileen worst the first woman to command a space shuttle mission and she knew how important Sarah rattling in the other Mercury women had been. Eileen Collins invited us all for her luck a launches. And it as it was shown in the Mercury thirteen film. We were on that Eileen Collins this list human NASA found out about it they put it on the put this on the VIP list. And when they introduced as everybody stood up and clapped for us. And that made its feel very very proud teasing yourself. Just been born later I was happy when I was born in I was happy to be a pioneered can't help. Start this program and to have people thinking. Let us accept people for what they are lists except them regardless of their religion their color or anything else. What they can offer and what they can bring to the program. To been highlighting your career. Oh I think the greatest thing with when I first saw load that was a feeling like net there. Mike you can do this I was sixteen years old barely sixteen I think is on my sixteenth birthday and I think that was one of the greatest things to us first rolling in the lines you can do this to. Sarah another. Deserving person of the week you're going came ABC and it's you know someone you think should be person of the week let us know Elena can be easy Defcon or Egypt CNBC don't come and join us Friday mornings for our person of the week. On came easy.
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