Katherine Johnson, pioneering NASA mathematician, celebrates 100 journeys around the sun



Katherine Johnson – a mathematician at NASA & # 39; s Langley Research Center in Virginia, who has helped human space travel – celebrated 100 trips around the sun this weekend.

Johnson, one of the & # 39; human computers & # 39; NASA, whose calculations have driven NASA spacecraft to the stars, turned 100 on August 26th. Johnson is a retired mathematician of NASA Langley who was an integral part of the development of the human space flight in America. Johnson, who was played by Taraji P. Henson in the feature film "Hidden Figures," began her career at NASA with a team of black women who also called "human computers". were mentioned. Like the other women in this group, Johnson broke barriers as an African-American woman despite anti-black bias.

NASA honored Johnson on her birthday and reminded the world of her unrivaled contributions to the human space flight. A number of women who did incredible work at NASA indicated how Johnson's work inspired them along the way. "She opened doors for the rest of us," said Julie Williams-Byrd, Langley's leading technician, in a statement by NASA Langley. [The Women Computers of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Slideshow)]

President Barack Obama presents Katherine Johnson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her groundbreaking contributions to the spaceflight on November 24, 2015.

President Barack Obama presents Katherine Johnson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her groundbreaking contributions to the spaceflight on November 24, 2015.

Credit: NASA / Bill Ingalls

An unstoppable force and a role model for young Afro-American women. Johnson started her career at NASA & # 39; s Langley Research Center in 1953 after one of her relatives told her about open positions in a completely black West Area Computing section at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics & # 39; (NACA & # 39; s ) Langley's laboratory. The lab was led by Dorothy Vaughan, who came from West Virginia, just like Johnson did.

Johnson analyzed flight test data and even completed a trajectory analysis for Freedom 7, America & # 39; s first human space flight. She was co-author of the paper Determination of the azimuth angle at Burn-out for placing a satellite above a selected ground position, which describes the equations describing a space transport in which the landing position of the vessel is specified. This was the first time a woman received author credit for a research report in the Flight Research Division.

In honor of Johnson's 100th birthday, Julie Williams-Byrd, acting chief technologist at NASA & # 39; s Langley Research Center, expressed her admiration for the legendary mathematician.

In honor of Johnson's 100th birthday, Julie Williams-Byrd, acting chief technologist at NASA & # 39; s Langley Research Center, expressed her admiration for the legendary mathematician.

Credit: NASA / David C. Bowman

The most famous work by Johnson, with the focus on Hidden Figures & # 39 ;, was for the orbital mission of John Glenn in 1962. The mission required a complicated worldwide communication network. The orbital calculations of the mission, which controlled the trajectory of the capsule for the mission, were programmed by a computer, but Glenn asked engineers to "get the girl" – referring to Katherine Johnson – to validate the calculations. She ran the same calculations that the computer had run, and Johnson said, "If she says they're good, then I'm ready to go."

Her legendary career at NASA lasted from 1953 to 1986.

E-mail Chelsea Gohd to [email protected] or follow her @chelsea_gohd. follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.


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