Katherine Johnson was an African-American STEM pioneer who played a key role in the success of the first manned moon landing.
“(The other women) didn’t ask questions or take the task any further. I asked questions; I wanted to know why. They got used to me asking questions and being the only woman there.” – Katherine Johnson
- Katherine was born in 1918 in West Virginia, USA
- When she was only 18 years old Katherine graduated from university, she studied Mathematics and French
- She got a job at NASA in the 1950’s as a ‘computer’ – back when people not machines computed difficult mathematical calculations
- She worked on flight paths for space missions, successfully calculating the launch window for the 1961 manned mission to Mercury
- Katherine did most of the calculations for the path of the first manned mission to the Moon in 1969 – where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first people to walk on the Moon’s surface
- Over the years her calculations and work have helped many astronauts visit space and return safely
- Katherine authored and co-authored 26 scientific papers and she also helped write the first textbook about space travel
- In 2015 Barack Obama presented her with the presidential medal of freedom – the USA’s highest civilian honour
- The 2016 film’Hidden Figures’ was based on Katherine’s story – she was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson
- Katherine died in February 2020 – at the age of 101
Lily & Maisie
2 Sisters In STEM
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