NASA Finally Honor 100-year-old Katherine Johnson, The Woman Who Helped Put the Man On The Moon

One of the most recognized events in history was Neil Armstrong’s giant leap for mankind, as he was the first man to walk on the moon, however, some people conveniently forgot what or who made it possible.

The former NASA research mathematician and now 100-year-old Katherine Johnson, who is one of America’s most important space pioneers.

On February 23, NASA finally announced that they are renaming the Independent Verification and Validation Facility (IV&V) in West Virginia to Katherine Johnson IV&V Facility. This is to honor her work that was vital in making the Moon landing mission possible.

Katherine Johnson is an African -American mathematician who was born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia in 1918. She was better known at NASA as the “human computer.” During this time, placing a human on the moon was only a fantasy and thought of having a woman making it happen was even more impossible.

However, when she was hired for the moon project at the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics in Hampton, Virginia. Katherine made it possible as she was the one responsible for the calculations that made Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap” in 1969. She advanced further than the other women in her department because she was armed with her unquenchable thirst for knowledge.

“The women did what they were told to do,” she told NASA. “They didn’t ask questions or take the task any further. I asked questions; I wanted to know why. They got used to me asking questions and being the only woman there.”

Katherine was obsessed with counting when she was a child, and it leads to her being very interested in mathematics and science. She landed on a job at the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics in Hampton, Virginia, which would later be known as NASA.

She was hired for the moon project, where she first made hand calculations for Alan Shepard’s in 1961, and then for the moon landing in 1969. Her intense curiosity and brilliance with numbers lead her to a distinguished career with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and NASA.

After 33 years of service, Katherine retired from NASA in 1986, she received many prestigious awards during her career, including 3 NASA Special Achievement awards and a NASA Lunar Orbiter Award.

She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 by her ‘boo’ President Barack Obama.

In West Virginia state, a statue of Katherine was placed inside the campus to honor her, and they also created a scholarship under her name.

Katherine Johnson and her NASA colleagues, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan were profiled in the 2016 Oscar-nominated drama, “Hidden Figures.”

NASA also celebrated her 100th birthday on Twitter, last August 27, 2018.