In Brief

'They Promised Her the Moon' Opens Tonight in New York City

They Promised Her the Moon
Jerrie Cobb, played by Amanda Quaid, undergoes rigorous testing in "They Promised Her the Moon," playing until May 27 at Theatre at St. Clements in New York City. (Image credit: Jeremy Daniel)

NEW YORK — A new play focusing on a privately run program to test women for spaceflight in the early 1960s opens tonight (May 15) in the off-Broadway Theatre at St. Clements in New York. Preview performances started May 12, and the show will run until May 27.

"They Promised Her the Moon," produced by the Miranda Theatre Company, follows the story of Jerrie Cobb, a pilot who was part of an independent astronaut-testing program — women who came to be known as the Mercury 13, paralleling the first seven men selected for NASA's Mercury program, called the Mercury 7.

Cobb and other women passed physical testing equivalent to that done by NASA, which was run by Randy Lovelace, the NASA contractor who performed the tests on the official Mercury astronauts. However, Lovelace's program eventually ended and none of the women made it to space — America's first female astronauts weren't selected until 1978.

Tickets for "They Promised Her the Moon" are available online. Three performances will feature talk-back panels after the show:

― A discussion of the status of women in the media and popular imagination (May 16 after the 7 p.m. performance), featuring Ms. Magazine co-founder Joanne Edgar and news anchor Carol Jenkins.

― A look at the future of women in science, technology, engineering and math (May 21 after the 3 p.m. performance_, featuring Melissa Lane, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, and Girls Who Code co-founding president Nicole Valencia.

― And a conversation about the challenges of portraying famous women (May 22 after the 7 p.m. performance), featuring Amanda Quaid, who plays Jerrie Cobb, and Andrus Nichols, who plays Jackie Cochran, a pilot and sponsor of the Mercury 13 program.

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Sarah Lewin
Associate Editor

Sarah Lewin started writing for in June of 2015 as a Staff Writer and became Associate Editor in 2019 . Her work has been featured by Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum, Quanta Magazine, Wired, The Scientist, Science Friday and WGBH's Inside NOVA. Sarah has an MA from NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program and an AB in mathematics from Brown University. When not writing, reading or thinking about space, Sarah enjoys musical theatre and mathematical papercraft. She is currently Assistant News Editor at Scientific American. You can follow her on Twitter @SarahExplains.