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NASA renames the facility for real “Hidden Figures” hero Katherine Johnson

Now her name and heritage will be in front of and in the middle of a NASA facility that distinguishes her work. "The facility's program contributes to the security and success of NASA's high-profile mission by ensuring that mission software works properly," said the space agency. The transformation could not be more suitable for Johnson, who calculated the path of America's first manned journey to space. In the 1950s, before computers were widely used and trusted, human mathematicians were called "computers". And NASA's "Computer Pool" was strong on the unusually complex, handwritten calculations of black female employees. A small fault could spell disaster. But Johnson and Datapool made calculations for groundbreaking, successful space missions, including Alan Shepard's 1 961 journey – making him the first American in space – and John Glenn's 1962 mission, which made him the first American to pave the earth. [19659002] But Johnson's contribution, as for many female "computers", was often overlooked in history. It was until 2016, when the best-selling short story and movie "Hidden Figures" shone a light on their work and the challenges they faced – including NASA's racial segregation. A pivotal scene in the movie presents Glenn nervously preparing for his flight. Computer equipment was so new, Glenn was skeptical of his calculations. Glenn therefore requested that Johnson – whose glory was known in NASA – independently confirmed the calculations by hand before feeling comfortable enough to start his journey three times around the world. But Johnson's rise in NASA was not…

Now her name and heritage will be in front of and in the middle of a NASA facility that distinguishes her work.

“The facility’s program contributes to the security and success of NASA’s high-profile mission by ensuring that mission software works properly,” said the space agency.

The transformation could not be more suitable for Johnson, who calculated the path of America’s first manned journey to space.

In the 1950s, before computers were widely used and trusted, human mathematicians were called “computers”. And NASA’s “Computer Pool” was strong on the unusually complex, handwritten calculations of black female employees.

A small fault could spell disaster. But Johnson and Datapool made calculations for groundbreaking, successful space missions, including Alan Shepard’s 1

961 journey – making him the first American in space – and John Glenn’s 1962 mission, which made him the first American to pave the earth. [19659002] But Johnson’s contribution, as for many female “computers”, was often overlooked in history. It was until 2016, when the best-selling short story and movie “Hidden Figures” shone a light on their work and the challenges they faced – including NASA’s racial segregation.

A pivotal scene in the movie presents Glenn nervously preparing for his flight. Computer equipment was so new, Glenn was skeptical of his calculations. Glenn therefore requested that Johnson – whose glory was known in NASA – independently confirmed the calculations by hand before feeling comfortable enough to start his journey three times around the world.

But Johnson’s rise in NASA was not easy.

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She was born 1918 in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia, where education for black people ended in eighth grade.

But her parents recognized her talent for math, so they sent her to get a high school on campus in the West Virginia State Institute, a black college 100 miles away. It paid off and graduated from high school at 14 and graduated from West Virginia State in 1937 in 18 years.

Like many women in her time, she became a teacher – but her goal was to become a mathematician for research.

Following an executive order prohibiting racial discrimination in the defense industry, the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory began recruiting black people with a college degree in the 1940s for the data pool.

For many years, the women occupied a segregated wing, “West Area Computing,” and used separate facilities. That was where Johnson started in 1953.

After just two weeks, she transferred to the plant’s Flight Research Division. She worked there for several years until the Soviet satellite Sputnik kicked out the space race between the US and the Soviet Union.

Johnson stepped into briefings that traditionally only attended by men and secured a place in the inner space program of the American space program.

 President Barack Obama gives the president the medal of freedom to Katherine Johnson 2015.

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