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Hart, Jane Briggs
Hart Jane
Hart Jane
Credit: www.spacefacts.de
American pilot, one of the Mercury 13 female astronauts proposed in 1961, but never entered training.

Status: Deceased. Born: 1921-10-21. Died: 2015-06-05. Birth Place: Detroit, Michigan.

Wife of the US Senator from Michigan, Philip Hart, and the daughter of Walter Briggs, millionaire owner of the Detroit Tigers. One of the group of women who went to the Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1961 and underwent the same medical and psychological tests that the Mercury 7 astronauts had completed. She was one of the Mercury 13 finalists, considered qualified by Dr. Lovelace for astronaut training.

Wikipedia: Jane Briggs “Janey” Hart (October 21, 1921 – June 5, 2015) was an aviator and widow of the late Senator Philip A. Hart. Hart earned her first pilot's license during World War II, and later became the first licensed female helicopter pilot in Michigan.

In the early 1960s, Hart was chosen to participate in the Lovelace Foundation's Woman in Space Program, a privately funded project designed to test women pilots for astronaut fitness by subjecting them to the same physical tests developed by NASA for astronauts.At the age of 40, Hart became one of only 13 women (later dubbed the Mercury 13) to qualify.

Hart was born in Detroit, Michigan, on October 21, 1921, to businessman Walter O. Briggs and Jane Cameron. She attended the Academies of the Sacred Heart in Detroit, Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and Torresdale, Pennsylvania, and Manhattanville College in New York. In 1970, at age 49, she received her BA in anthropology from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

On June 19, 1943, she married Philip Hart. The couple would go on to have nine children, one of whom died as a toddler. In 1958 Philip Hart was elected to the United States Senate, where he served until 1976.

Like her husband, Hart had an abiding interest in politics. She was active in her husband's political campaigns (including piloting him to campaign stops) and served as vice chairman of the Oakland County (Michigan) Democratic Committee. She was a founding member of the National Organization for Women, and served as board member and national convention delegate for the Birmingham, Michigan League of Women Voters.

While living in Washington, Hart gained a reputation as a non-conformist.[5] She was also active and vocal in her opposition to the Vietnam War, which was sometimes awkward for her husband, the Senator. For example, in 1969 she was arrested in an antiwar demonstration at the Pentagon, and In 1972, she announced her intention to stop paying federal income taxes, stating, "I cannot contribute one more dollar toward the purchase of more bomb and bullets". Despite this, Senator Hart was unwavering in his support for his wife even though he did not agree with many of her decisions.

Hart was also an avid sailor and has sailed in the Port Huron to Mackinac Boat Race 15 times as part of an all-women crew.

After her husband's death, Hart donated several boxes of scrapbooks, photographs and newspaper clippings of her life as a senator's wife to the University of Michigan's Bentley Historical Library.

Hart died on June 5, 2015 in West Hartford, Connecticut from complications resulting from Alzheimer's disease, aged 93.


More at: Hart, Jane.

Family: Astronaut, Mercury 13 Group - 1961. Country: USA. Bibliography: 4452, 5494.

1961 January 1 - .
  • Mercury 13 Astronaut Training Group selected. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Allison, Cagle, Myrtle, Cobb, Dietrich, Dietrich, Marion, Funk, Gorelick, Hart, Jane, Hixson, Leverton, Steadman, Stumough, Truhill.

    Qualifications: Qualified jet pilot with minimum 1,500 flight-hours/10 years experience, bachelor's degree or equivalent, under 40 years old, under 180 cm height, excellent physical condition.. Randolph Lovelace was director of the clinic where the Mercury astronauts had undergone their physical examinations. He and Jacqueline Cochran, the first American woman to break the sound barrier, wanted to prove that women were equally qualified to be astronauts. In early 1961 they arranged for 20 highly qualified female pilots to take the same physical tests undergone by the Mercury astronauts. Thirteen passed the tests, but NASA maintained its position that astronauts had to be qualified test pilots (all of whom were white males). One of the thirteen was the wife of a US Senator, and some congressional hearings were arranged. Despite the publicity NASA was still unwilling to place them in the official NASA training program.

    Oddly enough, the selection of these women may have resulted in the first woman going into space after all. In May 1962 a Soviet delegation, including cosmonaut Gherman Titov and cosmonaut commander Nikolai Kamanin, visited Washington. Kamanin had been pushing for the flight of a Soviet woman into space since October 1961, and five Soviet female cosmonauts had just reported for training a month earlier. However the flight of a woman in space had little support from Chief Designer Korolev or Kamanin's military commanders. On May 3 Kamanin and Titov were invited to a barbecue at the home of astronaut John Glenn. Glenn, already politically-connected, was an enthusiastic supporter of the 'Lovelace 13'. Kamanin understood from Glenn that the first American woman would make a three-orbit Mercury flight by the end of 1962. Armed with the threat that 'the Americans will beat us', Kamanin was able to obtain a decision to go ahead with the first flight of a Soviet woman within weeks of his return. The Russians were obsessed with being first in space -- and even though NASA's female cosmonauts never materialised, Valentina Tereshkova of the Soviet Union became the first woman in space on June 16, 1963.



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