Home > News & Advice > News Obituaries > Jerrie Cobb (1931–2019), NASA’s first female astronaut candidate

Jerrie Cobb (1931–2019), NASA’s first female astronaut candidate

by Kirk Fox

A lifelong advocate for women flying and traveling to outer space.

Jerrie Cobb was NASA’s first female astronaut candidate, passing astronaut testing in 1961. A total of 13 women passed the difficult physical testing and became known as the Mercury 13, a reference to the Mercury 7 astronauts who were all men. None of the 13 women reached space. She was a gifted pilot, setting many world records and was the first woman to fly in the Paris Air Show. She spent most of her career flying humanitarian missions in the Amazon jungle. Cobb advocated throughout her life for women flying in space and tried to get on space shuttle Discovery in 1998 along with 77 year old John Glenn, who was included on that mission.

We invite you to share condolences for Jerrie Cobb in our Guest Book.


Died: Monday, March 18, 2019. (Who else died on March 18?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 88, journalist Miles O’Brien, speaking on behalf of her family, confirmed to the Associated Press.

Is there someone you miss whose memory should be honored? Here are some ways.

What she told Congress in 1962 at a hearing on women astronaut candidates: “We women pilots who want to be part of the research and participation in space exploration are not trying to join a battle of the sexes. As pilots, we fly and share mutual respect with male pilots in the primarily man’s world of aviation. We very well know how to live together in our profession. We see, only, a place in our Nation’s space future without discrimination…”

What they said about her: “For anyone who has enjoyed Captain Marvel, know that the lives of Jerrie Cobb & the rest of the Mercury 13 were primary influences on @kellysue’s portrayal of the character. Cobb was a towering figure.” —Martin Hajovsky on Twitter

“So sad to hear of the passing of #JerrieCobb. She should have gone to space, but turned her life into one of service with grace.” —Ellen Stofan on Twitter

Learn more about the inspirational Jerrie Cobb and other pioneers in our Women of NASA gallery.

Full obituary: Washington Post

Birthdate: March 5, 1931 (Who else was born on March 5th?)

Related Lives:


More Stories