Marianne J. Dyson

Women in Mission Control

The Gemini Program

The first woman assigned a position in Mission Control at Johnson Space Center was Allison Bond. She worked as an assistant to the Public Affairs Officer (PAO), Paul Haney (1928-2009), for Gemini 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. I believe the woman in this photo from Gemini 8 is her. (It costs $10 for this image which I will pay if someone can confirm for me that this is indeed Allison Bond!)


This might be Allison Bond or Patricia Santee? at the PAO console during Skylab in 1974. NASA photo.

There was also a secretary in the room for Gemini 10 and 11. Her name was Virginia Engle. I suspect she reported to Chris Kraft who was the Flight/Mission Operations Director, the boss of the Flight Directors.

The “Hidden Figures” of Flight Dynamics


There were also “hidden” women (and men) in the support rooms which surrounded the Mission Operations Control Room. Many of them supported the Flight Dynamics Officer (FDO, pronounced Fi-doh). They were “computers” similar to the women depicted in Hidden Figures, but called Math Aides or Trajectory Specialists. I don’t know of any photos taken of this support room or indeed, of any support room during Gemini. The list below is based on personal interviews and NASA press releases of Mission Control Room staffing from Gemini 4 through Gemini 12, in 1965-66. This list is only for Johnson Space Center and does NOT include launch controllers from Langley or Kennedy Space Center.

Math Aides and Trajectory Specialists

  • Paulette ?Mayock or ?Mazoch, Gemini 8, 9 (Spelling inconsistent on rosters)
  • Melba Taylor, Gemini 8 Mary Ann Richards or Richardson, Gemini 8, 10, 11
  • Lela Steward, Gemini 8
  • Patricia L. Hatchenberg, Gemini 9
  • Sherry or Sherrie Tilson or Tilton, Gemini 9, 10
  • Irene Horsington, Gemini 10
  • Hazel Bryan, Gemini 10
  • Molly Hernsby, Gemini 10, 11 Ratha M. Hansen Gemini 11
  • Joyce Landers, Gemini 11, 12
  • Jewell Harwell, Gemini 12
  • Margaret Crawford, Gemini 12

The “Hidden Figures” of Vehicle Systems

The Vehicle System Support Room also had women serving as “Data Support” for the Agena (target vehicle for rendezvous) for Gemini 8:

Data Support

  • Joyce E. Goodrich
  • Connie R. Turner
  • Patricia R. Garza
  • Joella M. English
  • Maureen E. Bowen
  • Gail A. Garrett

The “Hidden Figures” of the Flight Surgeon

There were also women in the Flight Surgeon’s Support Room, sometimes referred to as the Aeromed or Life Systems Support Room. I’m not sure if they were nurses or interns. All I could find out so far is that three of them were not MDs.

Aeromed or Life Systems Support

  • Judith B. Banks, 9, 10, 12, (Not MD)
  • Halley M Bishop, 9, 11
  • Norma Nugent, 9
  • Phyllis A Johnson, 9. 10
  • Bertha Gutlaw, 9
  • Lynda K. Richter, 9, 10. 11
  • Katherine Tindall, 9
  • Netha A Mayberry, 10,11
  • Pat McBride, 12 (not MD, might be a man?)
  • Evelyn Lindquist, 12 (not MD)

This list of women who worked the Gemini missions (1965-66) is certainly incomplete. I hope that relatives, co-workers, and other space researchers find these names and learn about their contributions. If you are one of these people, please contact me with updates, additions, and corrections: especially if you know the married names of any that are listed under maiden names, or the birth and/or death dates. Thank you for taking a few minutes to read their names and recognize their contributions to the American Space Program.

MORE INFO

What is it like to be a flight controller? Check out my memoir, A Passion for Space, or invite me to speak.

Learn about:

http://iwasm.org/wp-blog/ - International Women's Air & Space Museum

1966

Like many girls in the 60s, I dreamed of a job like Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) on Star Trek. (NASA photo)

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