Coming on the heels of last year’s Hidden Figures, another story of amazing women in NASA history is being made. The Mercury 13: The Untold Story of Thirteen American Women and the Dream of Space Flight has been placed in the hopper at Amazon as a mini-series. According to Deadline.com, the piece will be helmed by Bradley Whitford, Pascal Pictures and Star Thrower Entertainment. Whitford and Adena Chawke of Greenlight Management have been working on getting the story told for years. “Their persistence and passion for the project truly honors the spirit of the splendid women who made up the team of Mercury 13,” noted book author Martha Ackmann of the crew working on the film.
Whitford is best known for his role as Josh Lyman in The West Wing and most recently in a few episodes of Brooklyn Nine Nine. Pascal Pictures is the brainchild behind the upcoming Molly’s Game starring Jessica Chastain and The Girl in the Spider’s Web, the David Lagercrantz sequel to Steig Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
The Martha Ackmann book, set in 1961, follows a group of women who participated in secret testing with the intention of becoming the first female astronauts for NASA. Ultimately, our misogynist government at the time swept the women aside even though they completed the same level of rigorous testing as the Mercury 7 male astronauts. The USSR beat the United States to the punch by sending their first female astronaut up in 1963; Sally Ride was the first American woman…20 long years later.
Ackman is a speaker, journalist and author with a passion for writing about women who have made an impact in America. Her other novel, Curveball, tells the story of Toni Stone who was the first woman to play in the Negro League alongside the likes of Willie Mays and Satchel Paige. Her interest in the astronaut story was piqued by a small blurb in her local newspaper back in 1998. Immediately after she began researching the backstory and was inspired to tell the tale.
The screenplay for Mercury 13 will penned by Executive Producer Liz Hannah. Hannah and her fellow crew on this project most recently completed The Post which followed the story of Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee. Graham was the first woman publisher of The Washington Post. That film will appear in theaters December 22.
Mercury 13 is still in the development phase with no anticipated release date.