The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel
The united States wanted to beat Russia into space. It was after WWII and into an entirely new decade. Some of the finest fighter pilots would be chosen to start the United States’ space program. There were originally seven men and seven wives. The Astronaut life lacked the structure of military life, so the wives decided to become friends. They had monthly coffees and when each man went up into space, the women surrounded the wives left on the ground.
The US was not the first country to put a man in space, Russia beat them to it, but it was the first country to put a man on the moon, which came years after the first man went into space. Meanwhile, Americans were fascinated with the astronauts and their wives, so much so that the government had to get involved with an official publicity deal with Life magazine. The press was granted an all-access pass to the lives of the wives, even in very personal moments.
After the first men went into space, the wives got to meet presidents and first ladies. At home, the Astronaut wives had typical, and atypical, home problems to deal with, all while being in the public eye.
To the additional astronauts was added many more. There came to be conflict between newer astronauts and older astronauts. Death also came to the astronauts. Several deaths happened in practice exercises and the wives were often left without official support and what support there was came from the wives.
Many of the astronauts and their wives ended up divorced. There was a lot of time away from home for the astronauts, but there were also a lot of Astronaut groupies that hung onto the men, which apparently made it difficult to resist, even though there were wives and children at home.
Some of the wives went on the become very prominent people in US society, while some never recovered from the experience of being an astronaut wife.
What I liked
I never really wondered about the astronauts or their wives. I know that the whole thing was this big power contest between Russia and the United States, but I never really thought About the people involved. Their lives were certainly interesting, but I don’t hold the astronauts up to the same shining standard that I once did.
I never knew about the media deal that was made in regards to the astronauts and their families. Who would have thought that astronauts were that big of a deal, but in the 1960s, I guess it was; they were rockstars in their time.
What I didn’t like
It really seemed as if infidelity was condoned by the government and NASA in regards to the astronauts. I am already if the opinion that the military complex in the US asks and takes too much from its military members and their families, without giving enough back in return.
It’s hard to comprehend that these men we hold as American heroes, couldn’t keep it in their pants with the entire country watching.
The book got to be a bit difficult to follow. There ended up being so many women that the whole thing wasn’t as personal. I feel bad for these women, being in the public eye through such emotionally fraught moments.
You’ll never look at the moon the same again.
Would you go into space?
Do you consider the first men in space heroes?