Katherine Johnson dies at 101

Katherine Johnson, a “‘hidden figure’ at NASA during 1960s space race, dies at 101,” Washington Post, Harrison Smith, February 24, 2020

This is one of those “Oh Wow” moments to note the passing of an important person amongst us. This Physicist – Mathematician, this African-American woman was never recognized or given the honor for the very visible work she did in calculating the trajectories for early space flights manned by Shepard and Glenn, rendezvous paths for the Apollo Lunar Modules and command module on flights to the Moon, and the Space Shuttle Path. Her paper (co-authored by Ted Skopinski) “‘Determination of Azimuth Angle at Burnout for Placing a Satellite Over a Selected Earth Position,’ marked the first time a woman wrote a technical report in NASA’s elite flight research division.”

Her title when she first started working at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in 1953 was Computer. “She was classified as ‘subprofessional,’ and barely outranked a secretary or janitor.” Recognition did come later in her career and more so when President Barack Obama awarded her the “Presidential Medal of Freedom.”