February 26, 2024

Black History Month - Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson

August 26, 1918 - February 24, 2020

  • NASA mathematician, orbital mechanics
  • Her calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. crewed spaceflights
  • One of her biggest accomplishments at NASA was helping calculate the trajectory, or path, of the country's first human spaceflight in 1961, making sure astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr. had a safe trip
  • In 1962, she helped figure out John Glenn's orbit of the planet, another American first
  • In 1969, she calculated the trajectories of Neil Armstrong's historic mission to the moon on Apollo 11
  • She was portrayed by acctress Taraji P. Henson as a lead character in the 2016 film Hidden Figures

Learn More!
MIT Black History
West Virginia State University
National Geographic Kids