Houston Matters

Book chronicles NASA’s pioneering women astronauts

Space journalist and Houston native Loren Grush discusses her book, “The Six: The Untold Story of America’s First Women Astronauts.”


NASA’s first six women astronaut candidates pictured at the Johnson Space Center in 1979 (L-R): Rhea Seddon, Sally Ride, Kathy Sullivan, Shannon Lucid, Anna Fisher, and Judy Resnik.


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On Tuesday's show, we heard from a pair of pioneering women in space: Mae Jemison, America’s first African-American astronaut, and Peggy Whitson, who's logged more hours in space than any other American and any other woman in the world.

While those two (and many other women) have left their mark on U.S. spaceflight, the very first tapped to represent the United States in space are the subject of a new book from Bloomberg News space reporter Loren Grush called The Six: The Untold Story of America’s First Women Astronauts.

Grush grew up here in Space City, not far from Johnson Space Center, as the daughter of a pair of NASA engineers. She tells us that as a teenager she wasn’t impressed with what her parents did (like most teens). But, as she pursued a career in journalism, she came to appreciate more the work they and others at Johnson Space Center did, including the subjects of her book:

  • Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space
  • Judy Resnick, the second American woman and first Jewish American in space
  • Kathy Sullivan, the first American woman to engage in a space walk
  • Anna Fisher, the first mother in space
  • Margaret “Rhea” Seddon, the fifth American woman in space who flew on three Space Shuttle missions
  • Shannon Lucid, who once held the record for the longest continuous time a woman’s spent in space

In the audio above, Grush tells us about each of these six women, the mark they’ve left on the space program, and how they acclimated to a once male-only environment and how that still male-dominated environment acclimated to them.

Journalist and Houston native Loren Grush is the author of The Six: The Untold Story of America’s First Women Astronauts.

Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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Craig Cohen

Craig Cohen

Executive Producer & Host, Houston Matters

Craig Cohen is the executive producer and host of Houston Matters, which airs weekday mornings at 9:00 on Houston Public Media, News 88.7 FM. Craig is a 20+ year veteran of broadcast journalism. He's spent the bulk of his career in public media, in roles ranging from programmer and manager,...

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