Black History Month is a celebration in the United States Canada and the United Kingdom for remembrance of important people in history because it was when African Americans fought for their rights and stood up for them and demanded equality There's A lot of Africans who were brave and who were famous for it like Rosa parks Martin Luther King and Frederick Douglass and many more Katherine G Johnson is one of those brave people she was a pioneer in American space history A NASA mathematician Johnson s hard work has influenced every major space programs from Mercury through the Shuttle She even calculated the flight path for the first American mission space Katherine was born August 26 1918 in West Virginia Katherine s father a farmer and her mother a schoolteacher he moved their family to the town of Institute so that Katherine would get a good education Johnson showed her love for numbers and mathematics when she was a young girl
She says that she had an obsessive need to count everything Katherine was at college at only 15 years old at West Virginia State University W W Schifrin Clayor the third African American to earn a PhD in mathematics he saw Katherine eye for numbers and motivated her to take advanced math Katherine would go on to earn a graduate degree in mathematics In 1953 Katherine was contracted as a research mathematician at the Langley Research Center with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics NACA the agency that preceded NASA She worked in a pool haul of women performing math calculations until she was temporarily assigned to help the all male flight research team and she ended staying there Katherine specialty was calculating the trajectories for space shots which determined the timing for launches including the Mercury mission and Apollo 11 the mission to the moon 1958 after NACA was reformulated into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA Johnson was among the people charged with determining how to get a human into space and back The following year she remarried to decorated Navy and Army officer James A Johnson For Johnson calculating space flight came down to the basics of geometry The early trajectory was a parabola and it was easy to predict where it would be at any point she said Early on when they said they wanted the capsule to come down at a certain place they were trying to compute when it should start I said Let me do it You tell me when you want it and where you want it to land and I'll do it backwards and tell you when to take off
Her calculations helped to synchronize Project Apollo s Lunar Module with the moon orbiting Apollo Command Service Module and she and Al Hamer collaborated on backup calculations that played a role in the safe return of astronauts in the Apollo 13 mission She also worked on the Space Shuttle Among the many awards Johnson has received is NASA's Lunar Spacecraft and Operations Group Achievement Award and she was a five time recipient of the NASA Langley Research Center Special Achievement Award She has inspired me a lot and she relates to me she tells me that don t worry about what people say worry about proving that you can do We are all equal One day I hope I can do what she did Links NASA Langley mathematician named as Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Katherine Johnson NASA biography Katherine Johnson Maker s Profile VIDEO Katherine Johnson Wikipedia entry
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