Remember the movie Hidden Figures that released in 2016 about black female mathematicians who worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Space Race? Remember Katherine Johnson played by the Taraji P Henson? The human-computer?

Well, on the 26 August NASA joined Katherine Johnson on her 100th birthday. Johnson overcame racial and gender discrimination and went on to become a crucial part of the US’s space programme. Her calculations of orbital mechanics were critical to the success of the first and subsequent manned space flights in the US. Along with two of her colleagues, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan, she worked at NASA’s Langley Research Centre located in Hampton, Virginia.

Jackson and Vaughan were also in the movie played by actresses Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer respectively.

“You are as good as anyone in this town, but you are no better than any of them,” NASA quoted Johnson in a tweet wishing her a Happy Birthday. “Wishing a #happybirthday to Katherine G Johnson on her 100th birthday today. She worked at @NASA_Langley as a human-computer starting in 1953. Her calculations were critical to our early human spaceflight programme (you’ve probably seen that in the movies),” NASA history office tweeted.

West Virginia State University gathered to dedicate a statue and scholarship in honour of our amazing alum Katherine Johnson, who studied maths and science there, after graduating from high school at the age of 14. After graduating, with degrees in both Maths and French, she joined NASA where she worked to help calculate trajectories and launch windows on a series programmes. One of them was the one when Alan Shepard before the first American in space in 1961.

As she’s completed a century, we at Tech2 are also sending her good wishes for a healthy life, as she continues to be an inspiration for young women.


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