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Bernice Steadman, one of Nasa's first female trainee astronauts, dies aged 89

Bernice Steadman (far right) was one of the first women Nasa trained for space. Credit: Nasa

One of the first women Nasa ever trained as potential astronauts has died in the US aged 89, the Associated Press has reported.

Bernice Steadman was a member of the so-called "Mercury 13" - a grueling training programme in the early 1960's designed to put potential female astronauts through their paces.

The programme was eventually dropped and it would be a further 22 years before an American woman ventured into space.

Mrs Steadman's death was announced by her husband, Robert. She had Alzheimer's disease.

She had a pilot's license before she could drive, it is reported. In her youth she raced aircraft across the US and was a flying instructor.

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