When NASA used electronic computers for the first time – to calculate John Glenn’s orbit around Earth – officials called on Katherine Johnson to verify the computer’s numbers; Glenn had asked for her specifically and had refused to fly unless Johnson verified the calculations.

Katherine Johnson: Hidden Figures Nasa mathematician dies at 101

Reuters

Pioneering African-American Nasa mathematician Katherine Johnson has died at the age of 101.

Nasa announced her death on Twitter, saying it was celebrating her life and honouring “her legacy of excellence that broke down racial and social barriers”.

Ms Johnson calculated rocket trajectories and Earth orbits for Nasa’s early space missions.

She was portrayed in the 2016 Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures.

The film tells the story of African-American women whose maths skills helped put US astronaut John Glenn into orbit around the Earth in 1962. Ms Johnson verified the calculations made by new electronic computers before his flight.

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5 thoughts on “When NASA used electronic computers for the first time – to calculate John Glenn’s orbit around Earth – officials called on Katherine Johnson to verify the computer’s numbers; Glenn had asked for her specifically and had refused to fly unless Johnson verified the calculations.”

  1. SamanthasBlondeLover

    If anyone is interested in a great podcast about space the BBC has one named Thirteen Minutes to the Moon. It is one of my favorite podcast that I’ve listened to. It has some incredible story telling from the eyes of the astronauts and those in mission control during the moon landing of Apollo 11 and then in season 2 the Apollo 13 disaster.

    Edit: The podcast is available on Spotify, and [HERE](https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w13xttx2/episodes/downloads) is a link to the BBC website with the podcast.

  2. PrinceMachiavelliest

    She was definitely an awesome person.
    Ms Johnson was the type of person the Presidential Medal of Freedom was designed to receive. At least in my opinion.

  3. tpaxatb1

    Punchcard FORTRAN, baybeeeeee!

  4. CoachLoLoOTF

    Loved the movie on this— so good!

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