American recruits Indians for hotel jobs

In the umbra of the moon - NASA's unknown heroines

"How could a female brain do such analytical work as mathematics?"

They were considered human computers and paved the way for mankind to go to the moon.

Long before the American astronaut John Glenn could orbit the earth in a spaceship and Neil Armstrong could walk on the moon, a group of dedicated mathematicians calculated the formulas for what would later become the greatest successes in space history using pencils, rulers and adding machines.

The Afro-American women among them, who were hired by the space agency in the 1930s and 1940s because of staff shortages, were among the brightest minds of their generation. But the harsh rules of racial segregation made their work in the male-dominated institution that will become world famous as NASA, doubly difficult.

Nobody knew their names yet. It was only when Margot Lee Shetterly, whose father also worked there as an engineer, heard from them fifty years later and wrote their story, that it became clear that the Apollo missions would never have been possible without Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden.

A gripping book about the true stars of American space travel, in which backward racial politics meet technical progress.