Handmaidens to Apollo: Eagan woman remembers work on historic Apollo mission

Updated: October 09, 2019 06:51 PM

This year, NASA is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon mission, and some of the unsung heroes are getting together for a reunion.

A local woman is part of a historic group known as the "Handmaidens to Apollo."


When President Kennedy announced the goal of landing on the moon, the great majority of the scientists working on the project were men. But Carolyn Corson, of Eagan, was one of a handful of women who played an important role.

"I'm realizing that it was a big deal," said Corson. "And I just never thought of it as a big deal. Oh sure, I worked on the Saturn V, oh sure, that was good. And now I think back and it was an incredible experience. And I'm so grateful and thankful I got to do this. Not many women did."

Carolyn is a mathematician. She specifically worked the countdown sequence that led to the successful launch of the giant Saturn V rocket.

"It's just an amazing experience that I'm thankful I had a part of," said Corson.

She was one of 12 women referred to as the "Handmaidens to Apollo." They worked on the moon mission in Huntsville, Alabama, from 1967 to 1969.

Handmaiden is an old fashioned term that means female attendant, but Corson and the other ladies had important jobs. She didn't feel second class at all.

"The only thing I know we did have to work harder to maybe prove ourselves to make people know we were okay, we were good people to be there," said Corson.

Next week, Carolyn and seven of the other women she worked with are getting together in Florida to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their little known, but important role in the moon mission. It's the first time in 50 years they've all been together.

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Kevin Doran

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