“What kind of a woman would actually let her husband be blasted into space on a rocket?”
This was the question all the reporters asked when the Mercury 7 astronauts were announced on April 9, 1959 at a press conference at the Dolley Madison House in Washington DC. The Astronauts Wives Club: A True Story by Lily Koppel tells the story of those seven women referred to as the astrowives: Rene Carpenter, Annie Glenn, Trudy Cooper, Betty Grissom, Jo Schirra, Louise Shepard, and Marge Slayton.
The astrowives became instant celebrities along with their husbands. Life Magazine sent a reporter to cover the wives and children while their husbands were in training and on missions. They were given $500,000 for participating in the story to split between the seven families, which was considerably more that the $7,000 a year the astronauts were making from the military. They went on tours around the world and had tea with Jackie Kennedy.