Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson

2nd Feb 2020 2:45pm

Childhood and Family Life.

Katherine Johnson was born in 1918 and had 4 older brothers and sisters. Her dad was a lumberman, farmer, handyman, and worked at a hotel. Her mum was a teacher. Since Katherine’s school didn’t offer schooling for students’ past year 8 Katherine and her siblings went to a high school in West Virginia, Katherine was enrolled when she was 10. In 1939 after marrying James Goble, her first husband, Katherine left her job as a teacher, a year later she became pregnant and quit her graduate math program.

Career Achievements and role at NASA.

Katherine and a colleague of hers was temporarily assigned to help the all-male flight research team. Katherines knowledge heled her make allies with bosses and colleagues to which they “Forgot to return me to the pool”. Katherine calculated the trajectory for the May 5th, 1961 space flight for Alan Sheppard to be the first American in space. Katherine also calculated the launch window for Alan Sheppard’s Mercury Mission. When NASA used electric computers for the first-time officials checked with Katherine that the results were accurate, the astronaut John Glenn asked for Katherine specifically for the verification of the numbers otherwise he wouldn’t fly. In 1961, Katherine’s work helped to find Alan Sheppard’s Mercury Capsule quickly. She also helped with the trajectory for Apollo 11’s flight to the moon in 1969.

Experiences with Social Conflict.

Katherine and other African American women in the computing pool were required to work, eat, and use restrooms that were separate from their white peers. Their office was labelled “Colored Computers”. In 1958 when NASA took over NACA and adopted digital computers and disbanded the coloured computing pool. Katherine wasn’t allowed to put her name on any reports which was the same for all other women working for NASA at that time but this changed when Katherine finished a report alone and after doing most of the work she finally put her name on the report and became the first woman in her division to have her name on something.

Achievements later in life.

Katherine Johnson received around 15 awards after the year 2000 to date. Another achievement of hers is her age, she is currently 101. She finished signing in the choir of Carver Presbyterian Church for 50 years. In May 2016 a 3,700m squared building was named “Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility”

Other interesting information.

Katherine and James Doble had 3 daughters. In 1956 James Goble died from a brain tumour. In 1959 Katherine remarried to James Johnson.


https://www.nasa.gov/content/katherine-johnson-biography https://www.nasa.gov/feature/katherine-johnson-the-girl-who-loved-to-count http://www.visionaryproject.org/johnsonkatherine/ https://www.nasa.gov/centers/langley/news/researchernews/rn_kjohnson.html https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/71576/black-female-mathematicians-who-sent-astronauts-space https://www.inverse.com/article/19694-5-facts-about-katherine-johnson-hidden-figures https://www.businessinsider.com/katherine-johnson-hidden-figures-nasa-human-computers-2016-8/?r=AU&IR=T https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/06/books/on-being-black-female-math-whizzes-during-the-space-race.html http://mathshistory.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Johnson_Katherine.html