The riveting true story of the women who launched America into space.
In the 1940s and 50s, when the newly minted Jet Propulsion Laboratory needed quick-thinking mathematicians to calculate velocities and plot trajectories, they didn't turn to male graduates. Rather, they recruited an elite group of young women who, with only pencil, paper, and mathematical prowess, transformed rocket design, helped bring about the first American satellites, and made the exploration of the solar system possible.
For the first time, Rise of the Rocket Girls tells the stories of these women -- known as "human computers" -- who broke the boundaries of both gender and science. Based on extensive research and interviews with all the living members of the team, Rise of the Rocket Girls offers a unique perspective on the role of women in science: both where we've been, and the far reaches of space to which we're heading.
"If Hidden Figures has you itching to learn more about the women who worked in the space program, pick up Nathalia Holt's lively, immensely readable history, Rise of the Rocket Girls." -- Entertainment Weekly
Holt (Cured), a microbiologist and science writer, honors the lives and work of the women who provided the fledgling Jet Propulsion Lab with computing power, in this accessible and human-centered history. The JPL began in the late 1930s as a tight-knit group of enthusiastic male rocket designers (known as the Suicide Squad) who met at the Caltech campus. They were backed up by an all-female group of human "computers" who were responsible for solving by hand the math that powered the men's designs. The women had all excelled in math, physics, chemistry, and engineering often they were the only women in their classes but no company would hire one as an engineer or scientist. The JPL allowed them to put their skills to work in a field that would grow from "fringe science" to cutting-edge space exploration. Holt cheerfully describes the women of JPL (and JPL itself), their triumphs, and the inevitable questions about when they would marry and quit working to raise families. The 1960s brought birth control pills, pantsuits, and changing attitudes about women's roles, just as JPL was expanding human knowledge of the solar system. Holt's accessible and heartfelt narrative celebrates the women whose crucial roles in American space science often go unrecognized. Illus.