The United States Institute of Aeronautics and Space NASA lost a man who was critical to America’s early space exploration efforts. That person, the mathematician dubbed the computer man, Katherine Johnson, had died at the age of 101 years on February 24, 2020.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine through his Twitter account preached the sad news. “He is an American hero and his pioneering legacy will never be forgotten,” said Bridenstine’s upload, as quoted by VOA News, last weekend.
Katherine is an African-American woman who works on NASA’s space program. He and his colleagues were known as computer humans in the early years of NASA’s attempt to initiate a space mission program.
They use pencils, slide rulers and mechanical calculating machines to calculate the paths of rockets and orbiters in the atmosphere and in space. Katherine worked on the first mission to place Americans in space in 1961. She also confirmed the computations made by the IBM computer in 1962.
Katherine four received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2015. At that time, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden praised him as a great thinker who helped determine the direction of the development of NASA and the United States.
A book called Hidden Figures was published in 2016 based on Katherine’s personal life and experience. The book was then filmed in the same year and received three Academy Award nominations. Kathetrine attended the Academy Awards ceremony the following year with actors from the film.
Little was known about Katherine and her African American colleagues until the book and film appeared. One reason is that NASA separated the group at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
Despite working in a separate group from white workers, Katherine said that she was too busy to care about racism. Margot Lee Shetterly wrote in her book Hidden Figure that the woman did not close her eyes to racism, “she wanted her existence because of her daily life.”