Katherine Johnson, who hand-crunched the numbers for America’s first manned space flight, is 100 today

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-08-27 21:50Z by Steven

Katherine Johnson, who hand-crunched the numbers for America’s first manned space flight, is 100 today

Cable News Network (CNN)
2018-08-26

Saeed Ahmed, Senior Editor, Trends, CNN Digital

Emanuella Grinberg, Digital news reporter

Katherine Johnson worked in the "Computer Pool" at NASA.
Katherine Johnson worked in the “Computer Pool” at NASA.

(CNN)—Katherine Johnson, the woman who hand-calculated the trajectory for America’s first trip to space, turns 100 today.

Before the arrival of electronic data processors, aka, computers in the 1960s, humans — mainly women — comprised the workforce at NASA known as the “Computer Pool.”

Black women, especially, played a crucial role in the pool, providing mathematical data for NASA’s first successful space missions, including Alan Shepherd’s 1961 mission and John Glenn’s pioneering orbital spaceflight

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Virginia Officials, Hidden Figures Author Join NASA in Honoring Legacy of Famed Mathematician; Live on NASA Television

Posted in Articles, Live Events, Media Archive, United States, Virginia, Women on 2017-09-22 15:48Z by Steven

Virginia Officials, Hidden Figures Author Join NASA in Honoring Legacy of Famed Mathematician; Live on NASA Television

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA Langley
Media Advisory M17-105

Karen Northon
Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
202-358-1540

Mike Finneran
Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia
757-864-6110

2017-09-07


The Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
Credits: NASA

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, and author Margot Lee Shetterly are among the dignitaries honoring Katherine Johnson, former NASA employee and central character of the book and movie Hidden Figures, at 1 p.m. [EDT] Sept. 22 at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

They will join Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck and Langley Center Director David Bowles in cutting the ribbon to officially open the center’s new Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility, a state-of-the-art lab for innovative research and development supporting NASA’s exploration missions.

The event will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Media wishing to attend must contact Michael Finneran of the Langley communications office at 757-864-6110 or michael.p.finneran@nasa.gov.

Johnson, 99, will attend and participate in photo opportunities, but will not be available for interviews. A prerecorded message from her will be aired during the ceremony and a statement will be read.

Johnson was a “human computer” at Langley who calculated trajectories for America’s first spaceflights in the 1960s. The retired mathematician was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2015. Her contributions and those of other NASA African-American human computers are chronicled in the 2016 movie Hidden Figures, based on Lee-Shetterly’s book of the same name. She worked at Langley from 1953 until she retired in 1986.

For more about Johnson, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/content/katherine-johnson-biography

The Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility (CRF) is a $23-million, 37,000-square-foot, energy efficient structure that consolidates five Langley data centers and more than 30 server rooms. The facility will enhance NASA’s efforts in modeling and simulation, big data, and analysis. Much of the work now done by wind tunnels eventually will be performed by computers like those at the CRF.

For more information about Langley Research Center, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/langley

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Who Is Katherine Johnson?

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-01-08 20:17Z by Steven

Who Is Katherine Johnson?

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
2016-12-30

Heather S. Deiss
NASA Educational Technology Services

Denise Miller
NASA Educational Technology Services


Katherine Johnson
Credits: Katherine Johnson

This article is part of the NASA Knows! (Grades 5-8) series.

Katherine Johnson is an African-American mathematician who worked for NASA from 1953 until 1986. She was a human computer. In a time when minorities held very few jobs in mathematics and science, Johnson was a trailblazer. Her work in calculating the paths for spaceships to travel was monumental in helping NASA successfully put an American in orbit around Earth. Then her work helped to land astronauts on the moon.

What Was Katherine Johnson’s Early Life Like?

Katherine Johnson was born in 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. As a very young girl, she loved to count things. She counted everything, from the number of steps she took to get to the road to the number of forks and plates she washed when doing the dishes.

Johnson was born with a love for mathematics. At a young age, she was very eager to go to school. Now in her 90s, Johnson can vividly remember watching her older siblings go to school, wishing so much that she could go with them. When Johnson finally did start school, she so excelled that by age 10, she was in high school. By age 15, she’d started college!…

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Mathematician Katherine Johnson at Work

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-07-30 20:17Z by Steven

Mathematician Katherine Johnson at Work

NASA History
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
2016-02-25

Sarah Loff, Editor


Image Credit: NASA

NASA research mathematician Katherine Johnson is photographed at her desk at Langley Research Center in 1966. Johnson began her career in 1953 at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the agency that preceded NASA, one of a number of African-American women hired to work as “computers” in what was then their Guidance and Navigation Department, just as the NACA was beginning its work on space. Johnson became known for her training in geometry, her leadership, and her inquisitive nature; she was the only woman at the time to be pulled from the computing pool to work with engineers on other programs.

Johnson worked at Langley from 1953 until her retirement in 1986, making critical technical contributions which included calculating the trajectory of the 1961 flight of Alan Shepard, the first American in space…

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The ‘Human Computer’ Behind the Moon Landing Was a Black Woman

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-04-11 01:50Z by Steven

The ‘Human Computer’ Behind the Moon Landing Was a Black Woman

The Daily Beast
2016-04-07

Nathan Place


Image of Katherine Johnson at NASA Langley Research Center in 1971.

In an age of racism and sexism, Katherine Johnson broke both barriers at NASA.

She calculated the trajectory of man’s first trip to the moon, and was such an accurate mathematician that John Glenn asked her to double-check NASA’s computers. To top it off, she did it all as a black woman in the 1950s and ’60s, when women at NASA were not even invited to meetings.

And you’ve probably never heard of her.

Meet Katherine Johnson, the African-American woman who earned the nickname “the human computer” at NASA during its space race golden age…

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The Black Female Mathematicians Who Sent Astronauts to Space

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-11-26 03:19Z by Steven

The Black Female Mathematicians Who Sent Astronauts to Space

Mental Floss
2015-11-24

A. K. Whitney


Katherine Johnson at NASA Langley Research Center in 1971. (Source NASA)

Today, November 24, President Barack Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom, considered the nation’s highest civilian honor, to 17 men and women. Among them is 97-year-old retired African-American NASA mathematician Katherine G. Johnson, selected for her contributions to the space program, starting with the Mercury missions in the ‘50s and early ‘60s, through the Apollo moon missions in the late ’60s and early ‘70s, and ending with the space shuttle missions in the mid ’80s. Among other things, she calculated the trajectories of America’s first manned mission into orbit and the first Moon landing.

Awarding Johnson this well-deserved honor doesn’t just shine a spotlight on a single black female STEM pioneer. It also illuminates an obscure but important piece of history. Johnson was just one of dozens of mathematically talented black women recruited to work as “human computers” at the Langley Memorial Research Laboratory in the ‘40s and ‘50s.

They were so named because before machines came along, they crunched the numbers necessary for figuring out everything from wind tunnel resistance to rocket trajectories to safe reentry angles.

In fact, all of Langley’s hundreds of “human computers,” whether black or white, were women. It was an era when, as Johnson put it, “the computer wore a skirt.”…

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NASA Mathematician Receives Medal of Freedom

Posted in Barack Obama, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Videos, Women on 2015-11-26 02:42Z by Steven

NASA Mathematician Receives Medal of Freedom

NBC News
2015-11-25

Katherine G. Johnson calculated the flight path for the first American mission to space. The 97-year-old was one of 17 Americans who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom Tuesday.

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President Obama Names Recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-11-26 01:52Z by Steven

President Obama Names Recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Office of the Press Secretary
The White House
Washington, D.C.

2015-11-16

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama named seventeen recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. The awards will be presented at the White House on November 24th.

President Obama said, “I look forward to presenting these 17 distinguished Americans with our nation’s highest civilian honor. From public servants who helped us meet defining challenges of our time to artists who expanded our imaginations, from leaders who have made our union more perfect to athletes who have inspired millions of fans, these men and women have enriched our lives and helped define our shared experience as Americans.”

The following individuals will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom:…

Katherine G. Johnson

Katherine G. Johnson is a pioneer in American space history. A NASA mathematician, Johnson’s computations have influenced every major space program from Mercury through the Shuttle program. Johnson was hired as a research mathematician at the Langley Research Center with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the agency that preceded NASA, after they opened hiring to African-Americans and women. Johnson exhibited exceptional technical leadership and is known especially for her calculations of the 1961 trajectory for Alan Shepard’s flight (first American in space), the 1962 verification of the first flight calculation made by an electronic computer for John Glenn’s orbit (first American to orbit the earth), and the 1969 Apollo 11 trajectory to the moon. In her later NASA career, Johnson worked on the Space Shuttle program and the Earth Resources Satellite and encouraged students to pursue careers in science and technology fields…


Image of Katherine Johnson at NASA Langley Research Center in 1980. (Source: NASA)

Read the entire press release here.

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Katherine Johnson: National Visionary

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-03-09 01:08Z by Steven

Katherine Johnson: National Visionary

National Visionary Leadership Project
2005


Image of Katherine Johnson at NASA Langley Research Center in 1971.

NASA mathematician and physicist whose work successfully guided astronauts throughout the historic early era of manned space flight including the first mission to the moon

BIOGRAPHY

Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson is a pioneer of the American space movement. She is a research mathematician and physicist who calculated trajectories and orbits for historic missions including the first flight to put a man on the moon. She also helped develop space navigation systems to guide the astronauts. But her career might never have gotten off the ground if not for perseverance. Both her father’s determined effort to send his children to school and her own resolution to pursue her dreams overcame race and gender discrimination and led to an extraordinary life of personal fulfillment and professional achievements.

Katherine Coleman was born on August 26, 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Her mother, Joylette, was a former teacher and her father, Joshua, a farmer who worked extra jobs as a janitor. At a very young age, Katherine, who was the youngest of four, showed signs of being a math prodigy. She says she counted everything. “I counted the steps. I counted the plates that I washed.” And, “I knew how many steps there were from our house to church.” Katherine believes she inherited her gift for numbers from her father. “He originally worked with lumber. He could look at a tree and tell how many boards he could get out of it.” One of Katherine’s favorite stories explains how her father could figure out arithmetic problems that confounded some of her teachers…

…On the bus ride to this first assignment (in Marion, VA), Katherine says she had her first experience with racism. She says when they crossed from West Virginia into Virginia, the bus stopped and all of the Black people had to move to the back, which Katherine did. Later, they had to change buses. All of the white passengers were allowed on the bus, but the Blacks were put into taxis. Katherine says the driver said “All you colored folk, come over here.” But she would not move until he asked her politely. Katherine also said her mother warned her, “Remember, you’re going to Virginia.” And that she said, “Well, tell them I’m coming.” Katherine says the racism was not as blatant in West Virginia as it was in Virginia.


Katherine Johnson in 1985 at NASA Langley Research Center.

In 1939, Katherine married James Francis Goble and started a family. The Gobles had three daughters, Constance, Joylette and Kathy. Though Katherine had resigned her teaching position, in 1940 she was invited to return to her alma mater for a graduate program in math. She believes that college administrators were quietly trying to avoid a segregation-related lawsuit. As a result, she became one of the first blacks to enroll in the graduate program. But she was unable to earn her advanced degree. Her husband fell ill in what would become a protracted fight with cancer. To help support her family, Katherine quit school and returned to teaching.

During a trip to visit relatives in Newport News, Virginia in 1952, her sister and brother-in-law told Katherine they believed that opportunities were opening up for Black women in mathematics at a nearby aeronautics research facility. The next week, the Gobles relocated so Katherine could pursue her dream.

It took a year of effort, but in June 1953, Katherine was contracted as a research mathematician at the Langley Research Center with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the agency that preceded NASA. At first she worked in a pool of women performing math calculations…

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