Katherine take care of her kids. She
Katherine Johnson was born in August 26, 1918. She was born in a small town called White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. She was the youngest of four kids.
Her father was a handyman at a hotel and her mother was a teacher. Katherine loved math since she was really young. She went to high school at 10 years old and graduated at 14 years old. After that, she went to a black college, West Virginia State College. There she took every math class she could.
She graduated college at 18 with degrees in Math and French. Katherine starting teaching at a black public school in Virginia. She got married to James Goble. She went to graduate school but she quit to take care of her kids.
She was the first black women in graduate school classes at West Virginia University. In 1953, Katherine started working at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) which was called NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) back then. She worked with other women who did the math calculations for program engineers from the black boxes on planes. This was a very important job for the U.
S space program. Katherine was so good at her job NASA wanted her to help figure out flight calculations. She started to do math for the space program. Her job title was computer. The offices there were segregated.
She had to work with the other black women and not with the other researchers for the space program. NASA stopped the segregation in 1958. Katherine was apart of the Space Task Group where she was the first woman to get credit for writing a research paper. She was also apart of the Mercury program that put the first U.S. astronauts in space on Freedom 7. She helped John Glenn with his flight calculations.
She had to calculate the path of his capsule so he could get back to Earth safely. Even though they had the first computers at that time to do math they wanted Katherine to do the math by hand. They didn’t really trust the computers yet. She had to do the same calculations to make sure the computers were correct. She did the math for Apollo 11 in 1969 and Apollo 13 in 1970. Katherine also worked on the Space Shuttle program, Earth Satellites and plans for going to Mars.
She retired in 1986 with 33 years working there. In August she will be 100 years old.Katherine won many awards for her work and wrote many research reports. In 2015, she won the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama.
This is the highest honor for a civilian. Katherine was 97 years old when she received this award. In 2016, a NASA building for computer research was named after her. Also in 2016 the book Hidden Figures by Margot Shetterly came out and the movie also came out that year. Taraji P Henson plays the role of Katherine in the movie. Her friends Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson were the other black “computers” are also in the movie.