Who is she?
Katherine Johnson was a computer and mathematician for NASA, meaning that she was responsible for high-level calculations and problem solving. She and a number of other Black women answered NASA’s call in the 1950s for women to work in their fledgeling space program.
What did she do?
One of the West Area Computers, Johnson did the calculations that allowed for early American space travel. She was so good at her job that even after the electronic computer was invented, astronaut John Glenn requested that Johnson personally check the machine’s calculations before he took off for his mission on Friendship 7.
Why does that matter?
Katherine Johnson is living proof that women have a place in science and technology. Without her efforts and the work of women like her, Americans would not have left this planet when we did. Johnson’s brilliant mind empowered us all to explore and learn more about our place in the universe.