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Story of NASA's black female mathematicians gets made into a movie

Engadget Engadget 24/05/2016 Mariella Moon

Katherine Johnson received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 for her contribution to America's Space Race, and soon more people will know what she did to deserve it. An upcoming book and movie both entitled Hidden Figures tell the story of NASA's female African-American mathematicians back in the 1960's. Johnson was one of those women who served as the space agency's living computers -- rocket scientist Annie Easley was also one -- before NASA started using actual machines. The book is scheduled to come out in September, while the movie will follow in January 2017.

Johnson was a key figure in many historic missions in the 60's and the 70's. She was the one who calculated the trajectory of Alan Shepard's flight, making it possible for him to become the first American in space. The mathematician also calculated the trajectory for Apollo 11, which took Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon.

Margot Lee Shetterly, the book's author, said that one of her first thoughts upon hearing about Johnson's work is why haven't we heard more about it -- and about NASA's "colored computers," as they were called -- before. According to The New York Times, Hidden Figures will tackle how Johnson got her male coworkers to listen during a time when men and women were separated and white women were segregated from black women.

The book's movie adaptation stars Taraji P. Henson as Johnson, Octavia Spencer as her supervisor Dorothy Vaughan and Janelle Monáe as NASA engineer Mary Jackson.

The New York Times, bitchmedia

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