Bea’s Diner: Beatrice Finkelstein and the Early U.S. Human Space Program

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“Bea’s Diner: Beatrice Finkelstein and the Early U.S. Human Space Program” by William Gurstelle
Published in Quest Volume: 28 #2 (2021)


Nutritionist Beatrice Finkelstein was a significant technical contributor in the earliest days of the U.S. human space program. Finkelstein was one of most senior and highly regarded women in American space programs from 1952 to 1965. Her work was considered highly valuable by her peers, playing a key role in the development of the field of space feeding and laid a foundation that continues to be built upon in the cur-rent era of space travel. This paper explores her technical accomplishments and provides context for and commentary on their long-term importance and scientific value. In addition, Finkelstein was frequently described in the popular press at the time as the proprietor of Bea’s Diner and as “the Nutritionist to the Astronauts.” As such, she appeared frequently in newspapers, magazines, and on television. Beyond her technical competence and noteworthy contributions to space feeding, her personality, gender, and appearance permitted the space program to purposefully showcase a female technical contributor of high rank, and in so doing construct a figure with whom females of that era could self-identify. Thus, she significantly helped create positive public messages for the space program that were designed for consumption by U.S. voters in the hope of garnering public support and funding.


Gurstelle, William. “Bea’s Diner: Beatrice Finkelstein and the Early U.S. Human Space Program.” Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly 28, no. 2 (2021): 3-14.

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More Information

  • Archive ID # G301199
  • Format: Document (PDF)
  • Author/Creator:
  • Publication Year: 2021
  • Publisher: Quest
  • Copyright Status: Copyrighted
  • Copyright Holder: SPACE 3.0
  • Language: English
  • Number of Pages: 12
  • Type: History
  • Subject:
  • Collection: Quest
  • Availability: Digital Download