In the space race of the early 1960s, tremendous amounts of American money, resources and engineering expertise were focused on one problem: putting John Glenn into a little metal box,
In the space race of the early 1960s, tremendous amounts of American money, resources and engineering expertise were focused on one problem: putting John Glenn into a little metal box, shooting him into space, having him orbit the earth and then return safely to its surface. But in the days before electronic computers, the mind-boggling amount of math required to pull off such a feat demanded another price. Trained human computers, a core of dedicated professionals whose job was to rapidly and flawlessly perform the calculations needed for something as complex as space flight, were required to make it possible.
Hidden Figures is the true story of some of those human computers, a story that the well-explored narratives of the space race have long ignored. In the segregated computing division of the early American space program, Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) joins an elite all-male, all-white engineering division and struggles to have her voice heard as she proposes novel solutions of geometry and high-level mathematics. Her friend Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer in an Oscar®-nominated role) is committed to helping the core of professional calculators she supervises retool for the inevitable arrival of digital computers, and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) fights a system that’s committed to keeping a black woman from entering a university engineering program. Held back because of their race and dismissed because their gender, Hidden Figures tells the triumphant story of three brilliant black women who forced the establishment to take notice, and helped bring the United States into the space age.
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