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Credit: NASA/JPL

Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us from Missiles to the Moon to Mars


The true story of a group of elite young women at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who shared a love of math and and whose work influenced military rocket design, brought us the first American satellite, shaped lunar missions, and ushered in a new era of space exploration that continues today at NASA where some of the women still work—now as senior engineers directing our missions to Mars and Venus. 

The Reading Group Guide can be found here

Praise for Rocket Girls


A New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction Best Seller

A Los Angeles Times Hardcover Nonfiction Best Seller

An Amazon Best Book of April 2016

An Entertainment Weekly “10 Books You Have to Read in April” 


"In Rise of the Rocket Girls, microbiologist Nathalia Holt reclaims the role of these unheralded women scientists in the field that has enchanted humanity’s collective imagination more powerfully than any other: space exploration…. Holt was riveted by the mystery of how many such unsung women of space-science might be hidden in history, what their lives were like in an era very different from our own, and how those lives shaped so much of what we take for granted today. So began the marvelous obsession that seeded this marvelous book…. Thoroughly wonderful."

—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings


"The book acts as a fascinating time capsule, capturing what it was like to be a working woman at a time when only 20 percent of women worked outside the home, or when a woman could be fired simply for being pregnant.”

—Smithsonian Magazine


“Illuminating… these women are vividly depicted at work, at play, in and out of love, raising children — and making history. What a team — and what a story!”

—USA Today (3 1/2 stars out of 4)


“Most of our time in history class is spent learning about men, but women were obviously just as vital to innovation and progress. Rise of the Rocket Girls proves that by reexamining the space age–specifically, the group of women who redesigned rocket science in the ’40s and ’50s and made that 'one small step for man' possible in the first place.” 

—Entertainment Weekly


“[The women’s] stories are fun, intense, and endearing, and they give a new perspective on the rise of the space age.”

—Popular Science


"Intercut with the human stories, Holt carefully lays out practical problems — such as the need to minimize fuel weight while ensuring that a rocket could reach escape velocity — and how mathematics helped to solved them. Here, maths is dramatic, not mundane. Calculating is a physical, even athletic, act.”



“A must read for any women in tech or interested in technology!” 

—Girls Who Code


"Holt's book shines portraying the mathematical and engineering process behind JPL's many iconic spaceflight missions — including America's first satellite, Explorer 1, and the Voyager probes that explored the solar system — as well as the women's personal lives and the evolution of their unusual roles inside the male-dominated workplace.”



“Holt's accessible and heartfelt narrative celebrates the women whose crucial role in American space science often go unrecognized.”


Publishers Weekly, Starred Review


“Wow! Talk about forgotten history!...This is an excellent contribution to American history, valuable not only for what it reveals about the space program and gender equality but even more as great reading.”


Booklist, Starred Review


“The immediacy of Holt’s writing makes readers feel as if they’re alongside the women during their first view of Jupiter, and beyond.”


Library Journal, Editors' Spring Picks 2016


“A fresh contribution to women's history”


Kirkus Reviews


“I stole sleep to finish this book. Holt gives voice to a group of important (and lesser-known) female scientists. The domestic and the scientific are elegantly rendered. It is an impressive contribution to American history and I was sad to turn the last page.””


—TaraShea Nesbit, Author of The Wives of Los Alamos


“These women helped change the course of American history. Holt tells their remarkable story with heart and verve.”


—Martha Ackmann, Author of The Mercury 13: The True Story of Thirteen Women and The Dream of Space Flight


“An inspiring, beautiful book. Nathalia Holt has a gift for capturing the joys and fears of scientists working at the edge of possibility. By profiling the women who learned to keep American rockets flying true, she paints the dawn of the space age with new and vivid colors.”


—Jason Fagone, Author of Ingenious: A True Story of Invention, Automotive Daring, and the Race to Revive America


“Nathalia Holt has written a gorgeously exciting book about an overlooked group of American women who deserve to have their story known. Inspiring and elegantly-told, this fresh slice of history was impossible to put down”


—Claire Bidwell Smith, author of The Rules of Inheritance


“Rise of the Rocket Girls reveals the fascinating untold story of the heroic women who made America’s space program possible. We owe much to these brilliant female pioneers in science—and to Nathalia Holt for reminding us of their extraordinary contributions.”


—Cate Lineberry, Author of The Secret Rescue: An Untold Story of Amercian Nurses and Medics Behind Nazi Lines


“This highly readable, entertaining and informative book tells the story of JPL’s “computers,” the young women who did the calculations now handled by bits of silicon. Holt brings her characters to life, tracing them from their hiring as JPL began its career with the Army developing missiles for the Cold War through its conversion to NASA’s lead center for planetary exploration. She celebrates their lives, achievements, and service to the nation, as well as their excitement at having front row seats to the earliest voyages of solar system exploration. It’s a story whose telling is long overdue. We can be grateful for this enjoyable read.”


—Dr. Charles Elachi, Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Vice-President of the California Institute of Technology




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