October 4, 2018 12:22 pm

Friday, Discover NASA’s Hidden Figures with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Margot Lee Shetterly, Janelle Monáe, and More.

We get there together or we don’t get there at all. On this week’s episode of StarTalk Radio, we take a look at the hidden heroes of NASA’s ascent to the Moon. We’re featuring Neil deGrasse Tyson’s interview with Margot Lee Shetterly, author of Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race, and Janelle Monáe, star of the feature-film adaptation of Hidden Figures, which was nominated for Best Picture at the 89th Academy Awards.

Brandon Royal’s photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Janelle Monáe in Neil’s office at the Hayden Planetarium.

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Janelle Monáe. Photo Credit: Brandon Royal.

In-studio, Neil is joined by comic co-host Sasheer Zamata and Bill Barry, NASA’s Chief Historian, to help us dive into the extreme intelligence, bravery, and science behind the women who got us to the Moon. Bill gives us some insight into being a consultant on the film adaptation of Hidden Figures and the unrelenting attitude of the filmmakers to make sure they got the history right.

You’ll hear how the opportunity came to fruition for Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. Find out more about Mary Jackson as Janelle Monáe explains what drew her to the role, especially after she first thought the story was fiction. Bill also sheds some light on why it took so long to acknowledge the importance of these women.

Discover more about their roles as human computers and why the rising aeronautics and aerospace industry allowed for women at NASA to stay on in their roles even when society was urging women to leave their jobs and go home after the war. We answer fan-submitted Cosmic Queries about calculating the moon landing, computer navigation in the Apollo era, and what the astronauts did while on the Moon. Then, Tracy Drain, Systems Engineer at NASA, stops by to tells us what a Systems Engineer does and she tells us what her favorite mission has been so far in her career.

We also discuss NASA’s first search for astronauts which originally looked at circus performers and mountain climbers until President Eisenhower suggested military pilots. Bill Nye the Science Guy stops by to talk about the rocket science that went into the Space Race. All that, plus, Neil explains why we shouldn’t be surprised that science brings us together and Margot inspires us to never give into fear.

Please join us tomorrow night for Hidden Figures, with Margot Lee Shetterly and Janelle Monáe at 7pm ET right here on our website, as well as on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and TuneIn. If you’re an All-Access subscriber, you can listen to this episode ad-free at 7pm, too.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
–Ian Mullen