Katherine Johnson, West Virginia native and the woman who was featured in the movie “hidden figure,” is being honored by having NASA redesignate its Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Facility in Fairmont, WV, in her name.
President Donald J. Trump signed into law in December an act of Congress calling for the redesignation.
The facility’s program contributes to the safety and success of NASA’s highest-profile missions by assuring that mission software performs correctly.
(Explore the life of NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, who, as part of the team of “human computers” that enabled astronauts Alan Shepard, John Glenn, and the Apollo 11 and 13 missions to make space history, was later depicted in the film “Hidden Figures”. Courtesy of Biography and YouTube. Posted on Feb 22, 2018.)
“I am thrilled we are honoring Katherine Johnson in this way as she is a true American icon who overcame incredible obstacles and inspired so many,” exclaimed NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
“It’s a fitting tribute to name the facility that carries on her legacy of mission-critical computations in her honor.”
IV&V is currently planning a rededication ceremony.
“It’s an honor the NASA IV&V Program’s primary facility now carries Katherine Johnson’s name,” said NASA IV&V Program Director Gregory Blaney.
“It’s a way for us to recognize Katherine’s career and contributions not just during Black History Month, but every day, every year.”
(Katherine Johnson spent more than three decades as a mathematician at NASA and the NACA. Courtesy of NASA and YouTube. Posted on Nov 24, 2015.)
Born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, in 1918, Johnson’s intense curiosity and brilliance with numbers led her to a distinguished career with NASA and its predecessor agency, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), and spanned over three decades.
Among her professional accomplishments, Johnson calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 mission in 1961.
The following year, Johnson performed the work for which she would become best known when she was asked to verify the results made by electronic computers to calculate the orbit for John Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission.
She went on to provide calculations for NASA throughout her career, including for several Apollo missions.
At a time when racial segregation was prevalent throughout the southern United States, Johnson and fellow African American mathematicians Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who was later promoted to engineer, overcame racial barriers to achieve success in their NASA careers and helped pave the way for the diversity that currently extends across all levels of agency’s workforce and leadership.
Their story, having served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program, became the basis of the 2017 film “Hidden Figures,” based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly.
Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 and, in 2017, NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, dedicated the new Katherine Jonson Computational Research Facility in her honor.
Johnson celebrated her 100th birthday on Aug. 26.
Since its inception more than 25 years ago, NASA’s IV&V Program has performed work on approximately 100 missions and projects, including:
- The Space Shuttle Program
- Hubble Space Telescope
- The Cassini Spacecraft
- The Mars Science Laboratory
- The Magnetosphere MultiScale
- Global Precipitation Measurement and
- The InSight Mars Lander
(A trailblazer for African-American women celebrated her 100th birthday Sunday. Katherine Johnson made her mark as a NASA mathematician and was portrayed in the film “Hidden Figures.” Courtesy of CBS Evening News and YouTube. Posted on Aug 27, 2018.)
The IV&V Program is currently providing services tfor 12 upcoming NASA missions, which includes the James Webb Space Telescope, the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, and the Space Launch System.
Furthermore, IV&V provides general software safety and mission assurance services, including support for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
To Learn More about the Katherine Johnson IV&V Facility, go to https://www.nasa.gov/ivv.
For more information about Katherine Johnson, please visit https://www.nasa.gov/content/katherine-johnson-biography.