By Jake Weber

ALBION, Mich. — The story of 13 of America's most gifted early astronaut candidates – and how their gender prohibited them from achieving their dreams of space flight – is the topic for Albion College's 2008 Anna Howard Shaw lecture. "The Mercury 13: The Lost Story of America's Space Pioneers," is presented by author Martha Ackmann and one of Mercury 13 members, Wally Funk, on Wednesday April 2, at 7 p.m. in Albion College's Norris Center Towsley Hall.

Ackmann, who teaches women's studies at Mount Holyoke College, recently published a book on the "Mercury 13," a group of exceptional women pilots who underwent secret astronaut training in the 1950s. Although the women performed as well or better than their male counterparts in the physical, and psychological training, they were never given the chance to join a spacecraft mission.

Along with Ackmann's presentation on the history of the program, Mercury 13 member Wally Funk will narrate a short video and discuss her personal memories and impressions of the training. Funk, who is in her mid-70s, continues to do physical training in hopes of making a space flight someday.

"This is a huge deal for Albion College," said Albion College physics professor Nicolle Zellner. "The remaining Mercury 13 members are all in their 70s and 80s, so to have Wally come and give her personal story is a rare treat. Martha Ackmann has done an amazing job researching the history of the program. To hear both these women on the same stage is going to be really exciting."

This presentation is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Albion College Physics department at 517/629-0361 or .

Directions to Albion College