23 JUNE 2021


Rocket to equality


With women’s economic standing disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s hard to understand how SpaceX could have overlooked the symbolism and powerful significance for women and girls across the globe of including a female pilot on their first human-transported flight.









It seems that a woman certainly has a place making space history… if she’s a crash test dummy.

After “Ripley,” the sensor-laden female robo-rider, cleared safe passage for them in early March, male astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken became the first American pilots to fly a commercially funded mission into space on May 31.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine reflected on the SpaceX feat: “This is a moment when we can all look and be inspired.” *Ahem.*

Women might make up half the human race, but they currently comprise just 10 per cent of astronauts at NASA. Still, you don’t have to look far for some more equitable candidates. Hurley’s wife Karen Nyberg and Behnken’s wife Megan McArthur are both decorated NASA astronauts themselves, all four having been selected together in the NASA class of 2000.  
We all need a good news story right about now. And with women’s economic and social inclusion so disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s hard to understand how SpaceX could have overlooked the inspirational (and commercially savvy) opportunity of including a female pilot on their first human-transported flight. I guess we’ll always have Ripley.

Credit under dummy image:
Ripley the female crash test dummy (Image credit SpaceX)













Design Democracy meets and works on Taungurung, Dja Dja Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung lands. We pay our respect to the traditional custodians past, present and emerging, and support their endeavours and autonomy.

© 2010 –  2022 Design Democracy
Instagram  Facebook  LinkedIn
Subscribe to our newsletter