Herstory Thursdays: Katherine Johnson

In honor of the new movie Hidden Figures coming out this month, I am going to do a special month of Herstory Thursdays dedicated to each of the women talked about in the movie. 

Katherine Johnson in 2008 (Courtesy Wikipedia)

This week, we are talking about Katherine Johnson, a mathematical researcher at NASA who helped contribute vital information to the first human orbit of space. 

Katherine was born in 1918 in West Virginia and by the time she was 18 she had skipped as many grades as she could and graduated from college. In 1953 she began to work for NASA and she was hired to do calculations and was given the job title of "computer".  

She worked at the Langley Research Center's Guidance and Navigation Department and ended up calculating the trajectory for the first American in Space, Alan Shepard. She was so good in fact that when NASA ended up getting actual computers, John Glenn requested that she check the math before he went up to become the first American to orbit space. 

She worked at NASA until 1986 and her contributions proved vital to the American space mission. She won the 1967 NASA Lunar Orbiter Spacecraft and Operations team award and in 2015 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. 

Katherine contributed a lot to the fields of space exploration and math and she combated racism and sexism all throughout her career but she powered through and succeeded her dreams and work. 

Check out the new movie Hidden Figures out tomorrow! It's so good!