(August 26, 1918 – February 24, 2020)

A child prodigy who (at the age of 18 years) earned her math degree with the highest honors, Katherine Creola Coleman Goble Johnson is among the most intelligent scientists. Her space-shattering works on Astrodynamics not only helped the USA win the space-race against the defunct USSR, but saw NACA and its succeeding NASA chart new astronomic avenues. Unwilling to allow both the racial and the gender prejudices (of the 1950s) derail her dreams, she persevered in her pursuits. In the process, she contributed momentously to Orbital Mechanics, Aerospace and Cosmology. From launch-window evaluations to trajectory calculations, and down to plotting backup navigational charts, Johnson’s expertise were instrumental novelties which culminated in the successful launching of the first American into space. The same is true for the first American to orbit planet earth; as well as the inaugural human mission to the moon. Even after NASA acquired top-of-the-line electronic computers, Johnson’s mentally-accomplished-calculations were still required in order to ensure that those computers made no mistakes. The ease with which she resolved complex and cumbersome mathematics set her apart from the rest. As a result, astronauts (including John Glenn), insisted that NASA have her verify all their computers’ orbit calculations before their flights. Oh yes, she was that reliable! Even in those days of overt color-bar, a grateful NASA recognized and rewarded her ingenuity. Katherine Johnson received multifarious honors: including USA’s highest award. A spacecraft, as well as several monuments, institutes, research centers, and NASA facilities, are dedicated to her memory.


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