The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kirsten Dunst, and Kevin Costner.
Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.
Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.
Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black “West Computing” group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens.
Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement and the Space Race, Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades they faced challenges, forged alliances and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future.
Brian Harvey concludes by looking forward to future Russian planetary exploration (e.g Phobos Grunt sample return mission). Several plans have been considered and may, with a restoration of funding, come to fruition. Soviet studies of deep space and Mars missions (e.g. TMK, Aelita) have much to offer contemporary planners in Europe and the United States. Long-duration ISS and Mir missions provide a medical record of considerable value in constructing human exploration of Mars.
Illustrated with the photographs taken by Soviet Venus and Mars probes, pictures of the spacecraft, diagrams of the flight paths and landing techniques and maps of the landing sites, the book will build on the published scientific papers from the programme, archived material and memoirs and other material coming to light in recent years.
In Exploration and Engineering, Erik M. Conway reveals how JPL engineers’ creative technological feats led to major breakthroughs in Mars exploration. He takes readers into the heart of the lab’s problem-solving approach and management structure, where talented scientists grappled with technical challenges while also coping, not always successfully, with funding shortfalls, unrealistic schedules, and managerial turmoil.
Conway, JPL’s historian, offers an insider’s perspective into the changing goals of Mars exploration, the ways in which sophisticated computer simulations drove the design process, and the remarkable evolution of landing technologies over a thirty-year period.