Real People Behind Hidden Figures, Stars Join NASA to Mark Anniversary, Celebration of Diversity

Press Release From: Langley Research Center
Posted: Tuesday, November 22, 2016

NASA will kick off a yearlong centennial celebration for its Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, with events Thursday, Dec. 1 highlighting the critical work done by the African American women of Langley’s West Computing Unit, a story told in the book and upcoming movie Hidden Figures.

The day will begin with an education event at 11 a.m. EST, featuring:

- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
- Film director Ted Melfi
- Octavia Spencer, who plays NASA mathematician Dorothy Vaughan in the movie
- Chief Historian Bill Barry, who consulted on the film
- NASA Modern Figure Julie Williams-Byrd, an electro-optics engineer for the Space Mission Analysis Branch at Langley

This event will stream to schools across the country and air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

In the evening, the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton will host a special screening of the movie for NASA officials and the families of the women featured in the movie and the book on which it’s based, written by Hampton native Margot Lee Shetterly.

Media are invited to speak with Bolden, Barry, Williams-Byrd, and others from 4:45 to 5:10 p.m. at the museum, located at 600 Settlers Landing Road.

Langley was established in 1917 as the nation’s first civil aeronautics laboratory, and became the birthplace of the U.S. space program in the 1950s. It was here that Neil Armstrong and other astronauts learned to land on the moon in the 1960s, and the women featured in Hidden Figures – Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan, known as “human computers” – helped put John Glenn in orbit.

For NASA TV streaming video, schedule and downlink information, visit: 

For more information on the Langley centennial, go to: 

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