WASHINGTON -- Thirteen women pilots today offered themselves to Congress as qualified astronauts.
Mrs. Philip A. Hart, wife of the Michigan senator and one of the 13, said "women should be allowed to go into space without delay."
Mrs. Hart appeared with Jerrie Cobb, 31-year-old veteran of 10,000 logged hours at the controls of all types of aircraft, to assure a House subcommittee that women have what it takes, in or out of this world.
However, another veteran aviatrix, Jacqueline Cochran, said a lot more testing is needed before the first woman is permitted to try to fill the space boots now worn exclusively by men.
The subcommittee is looking into alleged sex discrimination in space.
Miss Cobb and Mrs. Hart spoke on behalf of themselves and 11 others who said they qualified for space work in astronaut selection tests at the Lovelace Foundation, Albuquerque, N.M. The other 11 members of the group were identified for the first time at today's hearing.
"It is inconceivable to me that the world of outer space should be restricted to men only, like some sort of stag club," said Mrs. Hart. An expert pilot, she also is the mother of four boys and four girls.
Miss Cobb, an official of an Oklahoma aircraft manufacturing company and the first woman to undergo full physical and psychiatric tests for space work, said evidence so far is that women in some ways are better qualified as astronauts than men.
She said that weighing less, they consume less food and oxygen; that they are more radiation resistant and less prone to heart attacks; less susceptible to monotony, loneliness, heat, cold, pain and noise.
Rep. James Fulton, Dormont, Pa., Republican and ranking GOP member of the subcommittee, said the question of whether women should become space pilots was all but moot.
"It's not a case of whether we need them; but whether we can keep them out," he said. "Women are storming the battlements of space. We men might as well quit struggling and let them in."
Actually, Mr. Fulton son, women are "every bit as fit for the job as men and possibly better. They are more adaptable."