The history of women in space is chronicled through profiles of 23 astronauts from 10 countries whose careers span a half century.
Dividing her account into four parts, Gibson begins with the story of the Mercury 13, women aviators who proved to be as intelligent and fit as any man but who were nonetheless barred from NASA’s astronaut program because of their gender. (Their story is told more compellingly and in greater depth in Tanya Lee Stone’s Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream, 2009.) The second part is devoted to Soviet and Russian cosmonauts, beginning with Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. The third and largest part of the book chronologically profiles American women astronauts beginning with Sally Ride and includes Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space, and Peggy Whitson, who logged over a year in orbit while aboard the International Space Station. The last part profiles international astronauts from Canada, France, Italy, Japan and South Korea. Sidebars supply factual information on such topics as training, experiments, sleeping and eating in space, and the physical and psychological effects of space travel. This workmanlike book is most valuable for the profiles on cosmonauts and international women astronauts, subjects that have received scant attention.
An informative introductory overview of the many important contributions women have made to space exploration. (source notes, glossary, further reading, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 12 & up)