Kathrine Johnson NASA Mathematician

Background

Katherine G. Johnson was born on August 26, 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Her mother, Joylette, was a teacher and her father, Joshua, was a farmer and janitor. Johnson was a gifted child, especially in mathematics. Her family moved over 100 miles away from their hometown so Katherine and her siblings could go to school. By the age of 14, Katherine had already graduated from high school. She then attended West Virginia State University where she received a B.S. in French and Mathematics in 1932. After college, she taught elementary and high schools in Virginia and West Virginia.

Katherine's hometown is the red dot on the map

Her time at NASA

In 1953, Katherine joined the Langley Research Center as a research mathematician for NACA (now known as NASA). She was the only female in the program and was often faced with adversity when presenting her work and new ideas for improvement. After a while, the members of the program realized how amazing she was at mathematics, especially analytical geometry. Her expertise helped her to achieve things women (especially women of color) had never been able to achieve before. She became well-respected by her team members and she was included in what had been all-male conferences to share her knowledge with others. Later, she joined the Spacecraft Controls Branch (also a part of NASA) where she calculated the flight trajectory for Alan Shepard in 1959. Johnson also verified the mathematics behind John Glenn’s orbit around the Earth in 1962 and calculated the flight trajectory for Apollo 11’s flight to the moon in 1969. Without her hard work and determination, these missions would have taken considerably longer to achieve.

After NASA

Johnson retired from NASA in 1986. Since then, she has received numerous awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2015. There has also been a movie released about her and the other women of color that worked at NASA during the 1960's called "Hidden Figures". Even at 98 years old, Johnson continues to travel and share her remarkable story with the world.

Katherine Johnson, 2015

Information retrieved from http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/katherine-g-johnson-42

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Created with images by Willy D - "nasa" • TNMOC - "p0329sda"

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