The “human computer,” Katherine Johnson, whose work was shown in the 2016 movie “Hidden Figures,” was acknowledged recently as the US space agency renamed a facility after the pioneer. A building was redesignated by NASA that conducts programs necessary for protection on the space missions in the West Virginia, native to the 100-year old mathematician, as the Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Facility.
In a statement, Jim Bridenstine, the NASA Administrator, said, “I am delighted as we are crediting Katherine Johnson in this manner as she is a factual American icon who triumphed over incredible hurdles and motivated so many.” As per the agency statement, “It is a fitting mark of respect to name the facility that holds on her bequest of mission-critical computations in her respect.” The building fittingly houses agendas that back the highest-profile missions of NASA “by making sure that mission software performs appropriately.”
Johnson, in her 3 decades at the agency and its precursor organization, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, computed trajectories for assignments comprising Freedom 7 mission of Alan Shepard in 1961, Friendship 7 mission of John Glenn in 1962, and numerous Apollo missions.
Johnson, as a black woman, along with fellow black mathematicians Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan smashed gender and racial stereotypes and barriers during the summit of the Civil Rights Era. Their anecdote was acknowledged in the 2016 movie “Hidden Figures” that was rooted in the Margot Lee Shetterly’s book. Johnson was represented by Taraji P. Henson.
Likewise, 4 educators from the Cobb County School District will have a chance to explore the stratosphere of the Earth when they join the Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program of NASA. Philip Matthews and Berkil Alexander from Kennesaw Mountain High School, Season Stalcup from Wheeler High School, and Nikki Besesi from Hillgrove High School will take part in the 2019 program installment.