Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson

Original Name Creola Katherine Coleman
Birth
White Sulphur Springs, Greenbrier County, West Virginia, USA
Death 24 Feb 2020 (aged 101)
Newport News, Newport News City, Virginia, USA
Burial Burial Details Unknown
Memorial ID 207382445 · View Source
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Mathematician and Physicist. She was the first African-American woman to attend graduate school at West Virginia University. In 1953, she obtained a job with National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) as a mathematician. Initially, she worked with other women and she described them as a virtual "computers who wore skirts". Mostly, they read the data from the black boxes of planes and then one day, she and a colleague were temporarily assigned to help the all-male flight research team. She asked to be included in editorial meetings where women had not been gone before stating she had done the work and that she should be included. In 1958, she began working as an aerospace technologist and to the Spacecraft Control Branch. Her calculations of orbital mechanics were critical to the success of the first and subsequent US spaceflights. During her career, she mastered complex manual calculations and helped pioneer the use of computers to perform the tasks. The space agency noted her "historical role as one of the first African-American women to work as a NASA scientist." In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom and in 2019, she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. She co-authored 26 scientific papers and her social influence as a pioneer in space science and computing is shown by the honors she received and her status as a role model for a life in science. Before even retiring from NASA, she was listed among African Americans in science and technology. On May 5, 2016, a new 40,000 square-foot building was named "Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility" and formally dedicated at the agency's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Johnson attended the opening which also marked the 55th anniversary of astronaut Alan Shepard's historic rocket launch and splashdown, a success she helped achieve. During the event, she also received a Silver Snoopy award; often called the astronaut's award, NASA stated it is given to those "who have made outstanding contributions to flight safety and mission success.” She was been named in the list of "100 Women" in 2016, BBC's list of 100 influential women worldwide. NASA stated, "Her calculations proved as critical to the success of the Apollo Moon landing program and the start of the Space Shuttle program, as they did to those first steps on the country's journey into space." A prototype Lego for Women of NASA was made and included Johnson, who declined to have her likeness printed for the final product. On May 12, 2018, she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the College of William and Mary and in August 2018, West Virginia State University established a STEM scholarship in honor of Johnson and erected a life-size statue of her on campus. In 2018, Mattel announced a Barbie doll in the likeness of Johnson, with a NASA identity badge. In 2019, Johnson was announced as one of the members of the inaugural class of Government Executive's "Government Hall of Fame." Two NASA facilities have been named in honor of Johnson. On September 22, 2017, NASA opened the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility in Hampton, Virginia and NASA renamed the Independent Verification and Validation Facility, in Fairmont, West Virginia, to the Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility on February 22, 2019.

Bio by: Glendora


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Colleen Liles Perry
  • Added: 24 Feb 2020
  • Find a Grave Memorial 207382445
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Katherine Johnson (26 Aug 1918–24 Feb 2020), Find a Grave Memorial no. 207382445, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Burial Details Unknown.