In the bestselling tradition of Hidden Figures and Code Girls, the remarkable true story of America’s first women astronauts—six extraordinary women, each making history going to orbit aboard NASA’s Space Shuttle.
When NASA sent astronauts to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s the agency excluded women from the corps, arguing that only military test pilots—a group then made up exclusively of men—had the right stuff. It was an era in which women were steered away from jobs in science and deemed unqualified for space flight. Eventually, though, NASA recognized its blunder and opened the application process to a wider array of hopefuls, regardless of race or gender. From a candidate pool of 8,000 six elite women were selected in 1978—Sally Ride, Judy Resnik, Anna Fisher, Kathy Sullivan, Shannon Lucid, and Rhea Seddon.
In The Six, acclaimed journalist Loren Grush shows these brilliant and courageous women enduring claustrophobic—and sometimes deeply sexist—media attention, undergoing rigorous survival training, and preparing for years to take multi-million-dollar payloads into orbit. Together, the Six helped build the tools that made the space program run. One of the group, Judy Resnik, sacrificed her life when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded at 46,000 feet. Everyone knows of Sally Ride’s history-making first space ride, but each of the Six would make their mark.
Loren Grush is a reporter for Bloomberg News specializing in all things space. Previously, she was a senior science reporter for the technology news website The Verge and hosted the online show Space Craft, which took her across the country to explore what it takes to train for space. The daughter of two NASA engineers, Grush grew up surrounded by astronauts and Space Shuttles. She has also been published in The New York Times, Popular Science, and Nautilus magazine, and has appeared on several TV networks as an expert commentator. You can find her at LorenGrush.com.
A September 2023 Indie Next Pick
“Tales of the space race enshrined in American history too often center on white men and elevate machismo…Science journalist Loren Grush reclaims this place as female…Grush skillfully weaves a story that, at its heart, is about desire: not a nation’s desire to conquer space, but the longing of six women to reach heights that were forbidden to them… Like space travel itself, The Six widens our vision of what it means to belong to ‘the whole family of humankind.’”
—New York Times
“A spirited group biography…The Six joins a growing list of books heralding women’s achievements in scientific settings where their presence was unusual or unwelcome. These include Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures and Kate Zernike’s The Exceptions, which follows the women scientists who fought for equal opportunity at MIT at the turn of the 21st. It’s hard not to feel awe for these women.”
—Wall Street Journal
“Vivid…Grush paints a compelling picture of the rigors faced by these driven and accomplished women….Grush writes optimistically that the growth of the commercial space industry will bring greater opportunities for female astronauts. Whatever happens next, The Six is an important record of their achievements so far.”
“Remarkable...Grush has an important story to tell, and she tells it well. An inspiring story of the first American women to go into space, charting their own course for the horizon.”
“Engrossing…a well-rounded narrative…The Six highlights the contributions of women in science and the challenges they face.”
“[Creates] an intimacy that makes [each astronaut] utterly memorable….Grush makes it thrillingly clear: These six women rose far above such misogyny, smashing our planet’s highest ceilings as they soared.”
—BookPage (starred review)
“Suspenseful, meticulously observed, enlightening…Lifts the curtain on the moment when Neil Armstrong’s ‘one small step for man’ expanded to encompass the talent, ambition, and perseverance of America’s first female astronauts.”
—Margot Lee Shetterly, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Hidden Figures
“A dazzling look into the lives of the first U.S. women to venture into space….This is a story that had to be told, and Grush has told it brilliantly.”
—Ashlee Vance, New York Times bestselling author of Elon Musk: Tesla, Space X, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
“One of the most important stories to come out of the space age….One can't help but cheer for these women of destiny as their journey unfolds…Superb.”
—Homer Hickam, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Rocket Boys, basis of the film October Sky
“A powerful, gripping, and at times heartbreaking tale of human courage in the face of impossible odds. The Six reminds us of the price that women paid to join men in space—and why these women still matter today.”
—Keith O'Brien, New York Times bestselling author of Fly Girls and Paradise Falls