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NASA honors ‘hidden figures’ who helped John Glenn orbit the Earth

Joel Kowsky/NASA(WASHINGTON) -- NASA honored the three "hidden figures" who helped pave the way for the first American astronaut to successfully orbit the Earth by renaming the street in front of NASA's Washington headquarters Hidden Figures Way.

The three African American women were featured in the 2016 movie Hidden Figures, starring Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe and Octavia Spencer. The film details the true story of Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan, who faced discrimination, racism and segregation but were vital in preparing astronaut John Glenn's orbital mission.

The three women were mathematical masterminds who helped make history.

According to NASA, Glenn didn't put too much faith into electronic computers, and, instead, he would ask engineers to "get the girl," referring to Johnson, to run the same numbers through the same equations that had been programmed into the computer by hand.

In December 2018, the D.C. Council unanimously voted to honor the "hidden figure" scientists and rename the 300 block of E Street, Southwest, according to ABC Washington affiliate WJLA-TV.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was joined by Sen. Ted Cruz, D-Texas, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and author Margot Lee, who wrote the book Hidden Figures: The Untold True Story of Four African American Women who Helped Launch Our Nation Into Space, to rename E Street SW.

"It's about how human computers -- these female mathematicians -- were doing the heavy lifting in aeronautical research, and it's about how women of all backgrounds prove that not only are women good at math, sometimes they're the best at math," Lee said.

Johnson, 100, is the last surviving of the three.

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Author: JTP

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