In the bestselling tradition of Hidden Figures and Code Girls, the remarkable true story of America’s first women astronauts—six extraordinary women, each making history going to orbit aboard NASA’s Space Shuttle.
When NASA sent astronauts to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s the agency excluded women from the corps, arguing that only military test pilots—a group then made up exclusively of men—had the right stuff. It was an era in which women were steered away from jobs in science and deemed unqualified for space flight. Eventually, though, NASA recognized its blunder and opened the application process to a wider array of hopefuls, regardless of race or gender. From a candidate pool of 8,000 six elite women were selected in 1978—Sally Ride, Judy Resnik, Anna Fisher, Kathy Sullivan, Shannon Lucid, and Rhea Seddon.
In The Six, acclaimed journalist Loren Grush shows these brilliant and courageous women enduring claustrophobic—and sometimes deeply sexist—media attention, undergoing rigorous survival training, and preparing for years to take multi-million-dollar payloads into orbit. Together, the Six helped build the tools that made the space program run. One of the group, Judy Resnik, sacrificed her life when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded at 46,000 feet. Everyone knows of Sally Ride’s history-making first space ride, but each of the Six would make their mark.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Learn the stories of six women who left a massive imprint on history…by leaving the planet. In 1978, Sally Ride, Judy Resnik, Rhea Seddon, Anna Fisher, Shannon Lucid, and Kathy Sullivan were chosen to be America’s first female astronauts. Space journalist Loren Grush looks at their lives leading up to the pivotal moments they were each selected by NASA. We found ourselves totally immersed in each woman’s journey right from the start, and we loved learning all about their trailblazing missions. We were astounded by these real-life heroes’ incredible endurance as they faced the intense physical demands of training, not to mention the media’s rampant sexism. The astronauts’ spectacular bravery makes The Six a wonderful and inspiring read.
Bloomberg News reporter Grush debuts with a satisfactory history of the first six American women astronauts: Anna Fisher, Shannon Lucid, Judy Resnik, Sally Ride, Rhea Seddon, and Kathy Sullivan. Grush traces the long path to the groundbreaking class of 1978, to which all six belonged, noting that a previous female cohort in the early 1960s was scrapped because "figuring out if women could fly to space" was seen as a distraction from the moon landing. The calculus changed in 1976 when NASA, hoping to counteract bad press from the firing of a whistleblower who criticized the agency's lack of diversity, opened their new astronaut class to women and people of color for the first time. Grush captures the personalities of each woman, but focuses primarily on the first two to visit space: Ride, a whip-smart introvert who concealed her sexuality throughout her life, and Resnik, a talented engineer with a reputation for "navigating between being one of the guys and being a raging feminist," as a male colleague once said. Grush also details the sexism the six endured, suggesting that Seddon's assignment to "help craft the food systems" rather than robotics or software was likely because of her gender. Unfortunately, the author sometimes resorts to dubious speculation, particularly in the re-creation of Resnik's mindset in the minutes before she died in the 1986 Challenger explosion. Still, this makes for a solid companion to Hidden Figures.