Katherine Johnson has significantly transformed the world. She is among the pacesetter of the space age. She was the best among the mathematics geniuses who were behind the fruitful space flights of the first astronauts. Johnson worked for NASA as a "human computer" in the ages where computers were not advanced to do complex mathematics computations to tell the right time that a spaceship was to take off and land and the path the space rocket should take while in space. The former president Barrack Obama rewarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.
She will forever be remembered as Katherine Johnson NASA because, without her discoveries, no one knows where the agency could be right now. NASA has built on her revelations to be where it is today. Her books about space and her contributions towards enabling astronauts to travel to space allowed astronauts to make many mesmerizing discoveries about space and enlighten the word.
Katherine Johnson profile summary
- Full name: Katherine Johnson
- Other names: Katherine Goble, Katherine Coleman
- Date of birth: 26th August 1918
- Date of death: 24th February 2020
- Age at the time of death: 101 years
- Career: NASA mathematician who calculated trajectories
- Nationality: American
Katherine Johnson biography
Katherine Johnson birthday was on 26th August 1918. She was born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, USA. She was also famously known as Katherine Globe or Katherine Coleman. She was a mathematician who calculated trajectories for NASA crew missions.
She loved numbers at a tender age. Johnson was in high school by the age of 10 years. She graduated with a B.S. degree in French and mathematics from West Virginia State University in 1937 at the age of 18 years.
The third African-American to hold a Ph.D. in mathematics, Dr. William W. Schieffelin Claytor, mentored her while she was in West Virginia State College, as she aspired to be a research mathematician.
She was a mathematics teacher in Virginia before she joined a mathematics graduate degree program at West Virginia University in 1940. She was among the first three women from an African American descent who were picked to join the program in 1939.
Katherine Johnson family
Her father's name is Joshua. She married James Francis Goble in 1939. He passed away in 1956 because of a brain tumor. She married James Johnson in 1959, who died in March 2019.
Who are Katherine Johnson children?
She and Goble were blessed with Constance, Joylette, and Katherine. Johnson has a large and beautiful family of six grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.
Katherine Johnson career life
Her career kicked off in 1953 at NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics). She served in the West Area Computing Unit with several African American women. They manually calculated highly technical arithmetics for male program engineers. Their roles made US space missions victorious. NACA was later transformed into NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) in 1958. Johnson retired in 1986 after working for the agency for 33 years.
What are Katherine Johnson achievements in NASA?
She made history in many ways while she was working for NASA:
- 1960: In the Space Task Group in NASA, she invented the calculations for the paths of spacecraft when they orbit around the earth.
- 1961-1963: She manned spacecraft in NASA's Mercury program.
- 1961: She figured out the path for Freedom 7 aircraft that the first American astronaut, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., used to land into space.
- 1962: Her role facilitated Friendship 7, a space rocket, to orbit safely around Earth with John Glenn, who was the first astronaut to make this accomplishment.
- 1969: She made the calculations of the Apollo 11 mission that sent three men to the moon.
- She was part of the Space Shuttle Program and helped in the creation of the Earth Resources Satellite.
- While working for the NASA Flight Dynamics Branch, she was a co-author of the first books about space.
Johnson's awards and recognitions
She received many awards. Here are the notable awards that she got:
- 1967: The NASA Lunar Orbiter Spacecraft and Operations team award
- 1967: The Mathematician of the Year award was presented to her by the National Technical Association.
- 2015: The Presidential Medal of Freedom from the ex-president Barrack Obama
- 2016: The Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility was named in her honor by NASA.
- 2016: A book about her life was published and an Oscar award-winning film, Hidden Figures, was produced from the book.
- Maryland's Capitol College, SUNY Farmingdale, West Virginia University, and Dominion University celebrated her achievements by warding her honorary degrees.
- She was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
Katherine Johnson challenges in life
Here are the life challenges that could not bring her down:
- She overcame the limited educational opportunities for African Americans.
- She dropped out of West Virginia University.
- NACA rejected her first job application but she was hired the following year.
- In the 1950s, women who calculated complex math for NACA's mission to send the first humans into space were paid a low wage.
- In the 1950s, she could not outshine her male colleagues at NACA because men were favored with more distinguished job positions than women.
Katherine Johnson hidden figures
The book, Hidden Figures, focuses on the life of Katherine Johnson and other black women who contributed towards NACA's first missions to space. It was written by Margot Lee Shetterly's and published in 2016. An Oscar award-winning film, Hidden Figures, was also created from the book and released in 2016.
Katherine Johnson death
She took her last breath on February 24th, 2020 at Newport News in Virginia, USA. Katherine Johnson cause of death was not stated. The NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine, announced her death on Twitter.
Katherine Johnson quotes
Here are three motivating quotes from Johnson:
We needed to be assertive as women in those days - assertive and aggressive - and the degree to which we had to be that way depended on where you were. I had to be.
I don't have a feeling of inferiority. Never had. I'm as good as anybody, but no better.
I like to learn. That's an art and a science.
Katherine Johnson overcame racial and gender inequality for her to be among the first African American women to work for NASA as a mathematician who calculated trajectories. She has left a legacy that will be celebrated for centuries to come.