SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL –NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson who calculated critical flight trajectories that helped launch America’s first astronauts safely into space and back including Alan Shepard and John Glenn and later helped land NASA’s Apollo 11 astronauts on the Moon and who was also a legendary trailblazing leader in civil rights, racial and gender equality passed away today, Feb. 24, at the phenomenal age of 101.
NASA and all space enthusiast’s mourn the passing of Katherine Johnson and her trailblazing “quest for racial equality, contributor to our nation’s first triumphs in human spaceflight and champion of STEM education, Katherine G. Johnson.”
Here is a statement from Administrator Jim Bridenstine on the passing of NASA legend Katherine Johnson who worked for the agency from 1953 to 1986 at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
“NASA is deeply saddened by the loss of a leader from our pioneering days, and we send our deepest condolences to the family of Katherine Johnson. Ms. Johnson helped our nation enlarge the frontiers of space even as she made huge strides that also opened doors for women and people of color in the universal human quest to explore space. Her dedication and skill as a mathematician helped put humans on the moon and before that made it possible for our astronauts to take the first steps in space that we now follow on a journey to Mars. Her Presidential Medal of Freedom was a well-deserved recognition.
“At NASA we will never forget her courage and leadership and the milestones we could not have reached without her. We will continue building on her legacy and work tirelessly to increase opportunities for everyone who has something to contribute toward the ongoing work of raising the bar of human potential.”
The @NASA family will never forget Katherine Johnson's courage and the milestones we could not have reached without her. Her story and her grace continue to inspire the world. https://t.co/UPOqo0sLfb pic.twitter.com/xwnRX9oZoi
— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) February 24, 2020
Katherine Johnson’s life and legendary accomplishments went mostly unknown to the public until her they were highlighted in the bestselling book “Hidden Figures” and the hit 2016 movie of the same name.
She was portrayed by actress Taraji P. Henson. The musical score was created by Pharrell Williams.
The movie ‘Hidden Figures’ is outstanding and I highly recommend you see it – more than once!!
Read this NASA Statement on the life and contributions of Katherine Johnson:
“NASA mathematician, trailblazer in the quest for racial equality, contributor to our nation’s first triumphs in human spaceflight and champion of STEM education, Katherine G. Johnson stands among NASA’s most inspirational figures. Born Aug. 26, 1918, in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia, Johnson went on to graduate from West Virginia State College with highest honors in 1937. After attending graduate school and working as a public school teacher, she was hired in 1953 by what today is known as NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, but then was called the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. She retired from the center in 1986. Johnson’s accomplishments at Langley were highlighted in the bestselling book “Hidden Figures,” and the hit movie of the same name.”
Katherine Johnson was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the nation’s highest civilian award – by President Barack Obama on Nov. 24, 2015, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C.
“Johnson’s computations have influenced every major space program from Mercury through the Shuttle program. Johnson was hired as a research mathematician at the Langley Research Center with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the agency that preceded NASA, after they opened hiring to African-Americans and women.”
“Johnson exhibited exceptional technical leadership and is known especially for her calculations of the 1961 trajectory for Alan Shepard’s flight (first American in space), the 1962 verification of the first flight calculation made by an electronic computer for John Glenn’s orbit (first American to orbit the earth), and the 1969 Apollo 11 trajectory to the moon. In her later NASA career, Johnson worked on the Space Shuttle program and the Earth Resources Satellite and encouraged students to pursue careers in science and technology fields.”
Watch this NASA video about Katherine Johnson with commentary by past NASA Administrator Charles Bolden:
Video Caption: NASA Mathematician, Recipient of Nations Highest Civilian Honor. Credit: NASA
Cast and crew of ‘Hidden Figures’ at KSC Press Site Briefing. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
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Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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Ken has created hundreds of widely published Mars rover mosaics and lectures also about NASA’s Mars rovers
Ken’s upcoming outreach events:
Mar 4-6: 7 PM, Quality Inn Kennedy Space Center, Titusville, FL. “SpaceX CRS-20, IFA and Starlink launch, ULA Solar Orbiter launch.” Free. In hotel lobby. Photos for sale