Katherine Johnson, née Katherine Coleman, (26 August 1918 – 24 February, 2020) was an American mathematician who calculated and analyzed the flight paths of many spacecraft during her impressive career with the U.S. space program. Her brilliant work helped send astronauts to the Moon.
Her incredible aptitude for numbers became obvious when she was young, and she started attending high school at the age of ten. In 1937, she graduated with highest honours from West Virginia State College, earning degrees in mathematics and French. In 1939, she was selected to be one of the first three African American students to enrol in a graduate program at West Virginia University.
Katherine began working at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA)’s West Area Computing unit in 1953. This was a group of African American women who manually performed complex mathematical calculations for the engineers. These women were known as the West Computers and their calculations were essential to the success of the U.S. space program. NACA was segregated during this time and the West Computers had to use separate bathrooms and dining areas. This changed in 1958 when NACA became part of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which banned segregation.
At NASA, she was part of the Space Task Group. In 1960, now known by her married name, Katherine Johnson, she became the first woman in her division to be named as author of a research report. She went on to author or coauthor twenty-six research reports during her illustrious career.
Highlights of Johnson’s illustrious career include: calculating the path for Freedom 7, the spacecraft that put the first U.S. astronaut in space; verifying the flight path of Friendship 7 at the request of John Glenn, who subsequently became the first U.S. astronaut to orbit Earth; being part of the team that performed all of the calculations required for the 1969 Apollo 11 mission which sent the first three people to the Moon. Johnson also worked on the space shuttle program. She retired from NASA in 1986.
In 2015, Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2016, NASA named a building after her, the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility. In the same year, there was a book published about the West Computers by Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, which brought the work and achievements of Katherine Johnson and the rest of the West Computers to the attention of a wider audience. A film based on this book was also released that year.
This heavy cotton tee has the classic cotton look and feel. Casual elegance will make it an instant favorite in everyone’s wardrobe.
.: Classic fit
.: 100% Cotton (fibre content may vary for different colors)
.: Light fabric (5.3 oz/yd² (180 g/m²))
.: Tear away label
.: Runs true to size
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