Happy 100th birthday to Katherine Johnson!
Johnson is an black American mathematician who’s work with orbital mechanics proved critical to the success of early NASA missions. Her work included calculating trajectories, launch windows, and emergency return paths for Project Mercury, the rendezvous paths for the Apollo Command and Lunar Module on it’s trip to the Moon, and her work was pivotal during the development of the Space Shuttle program.
She was initially hired on at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) as a human computer, but her knowledge of analytic geometry helped her move up to an aerospace technologist. Once NACA was folded into NASA in 1958, Johnson worked in the Spacecraft Controls Branch, and she was often called by management to verify electronic computations.
In 2015, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama for her instrumental work with NASA. In 2016, a brand new building at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, was named after her. The Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility began operations in 2017.
This lovely genius taught von Braun’s boffins how to fly! LOLOLOL — How cool is that?
I salute you, dear Lady!