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  • Friday, November 29, 2019

    The secret story of NASA

    The secret story of NASA

    In 1958, a real regiment of black mathematicians worked at NASA at a lower level. In The Shadow Figures, Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and singer Janelle Monáe lend their features to three of these real women, who have sent John Glenn into orbit and Neil Armstrong on the Moon.


    In Virginia, in the 1950s, laws do not allow whites and blacks to live together. At work, they are separated. Offices, dining rooms and even toilets are not mixed. On one side, there are whites and on the other, blacks. NASA's Langley offices are no exception to this rule. Before the arrival of computers, these are people who manually perform all the calculations necessary for space exploration missions. Among these mathematicians, a group of black women, isolated in a specific wing, are assigned to various tasks.

    Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) is a brilliant mathematician who is assigned to John Glenn's mission, supervised by Harrison (Kevin Costner as a fictional character, created from several NASA the time), for which it must calculate the orbit of the return to the atmosphere of the astronaut. And it is also he who, at the time of the launch of the capsule Friendship 7, will require that Johnson redo the calculations of the IBM computer that has just appeared at NASA!

    "I grew up in a difficult neighborhood, so I had only dreams when I was little. When you come from a place where people have no hope and the only thing they see is that they have no place in society, it's disheartening. Perhaps if I had known that such women existed, I would have liked to become an engineer. Not that I do not like my job, but there is so much to do in the world that I jumped on this project. The film may be able to allow children who grow up in the same environment as the one in which I was raised to have a totally different vision of what they can become later, "said the actress after had the chance to meet the real Katherine G. Johnson, to whom President Barack Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

    A world of transformation

    Octavia Spencer, she plays Dorothy Vaughan, died in 2008, supervisor of the group without being officially. After the delivery of the computer, she will learn the FORTRAN, programming language, will convince all NASA black employees to do the same and thus guarantee a job at all. "The film takes place at such an interesting time for our country when it was transformed into what we know today," she said. Looking at the past, what is beautiful is that we can see how much it is possible to influence the future. I really hope that by seeing this film, girls around the world will realize their value."

    "I was extremely motivated to be part of the team that would tell this story. These women literally changed the world by allowing the first astronaut to be placed in orbit around the Earth. From the moment I received the script and was asked to audition, nothing was more important to me than to get the role of Mary Jackson, "said Janelle Monáe, who spent months immersing himself in the history of NASA.

    The final word belongs to Theodore Melfi, the director of this feature film produced by Pharrell Williams. "Something extraordinary happened when the United States decided to go to the moon. People began to be appreciated based on their abilities. In Shadows, we see how knowledge and skills were equalizing factors. During the space race, we put everything else aside and asked everyone, regardless of race or gender, to put their mathematical skills to the service of the country. "

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