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Category: NASA
  • Katherine Johnson calculated -- by hand -- the flight trajectories for a number of historic missions, including the Apollo 11 flight to the Moon in 1969.

    When President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Katherine Johnson in 2015, few people had even heard her name — but today, thanks to the smash success of the book Hidden Figures and its movie adaptation, this groundbreaking mathematician has become an inspiration for girls everywhere! Continue reading Continue reading

  • The newly minted astronauts are the first class from NASA's Artemis program which planning missions to the Moon and, ultimately, missions to Mars.

    When NASA's newest astronaut class graduated this week, it included five mighty women! The new astronauts have spent two years in intensive training in a wide variety of skills, including spacewalking, robotics, International Space Station (ISS) systems, T-38 jet proficiency, and the Russian language. "As astronauts, they’ll help develop spacecraft [and] support the teams currently in space," NASA wrote in a graduation announcement, "and ultimately join the ranks of only about 500 people who have had the honor of going into space." Continue reading Continue reading

  • The Apollo 11 moon landing nearly ended in failure -- until Margaret Hamilton's flight software saved the day.

    In this iconic photograph, pioneering computer scientist Margaret Hamilton stands next to the computer code that she and her team wrote to guide the Apollo spacecraft to the moon! Hamilton was the lead software designer for NASA’s Apollo program, and her forward thinking saved the 1969 Apollo 11 mission when the flight software she designed prevented a last-minute abort of the famous landing which brought the first humans to the Moon. Over the course of her career, Hamilton developed the concepts of asynchronous software, priority scheduling, and Human-in-the-loop decision capability, which became the foundation of modern software design. She also fought for programming to be given the respect it deserved, coining the term "software engineering" ; after all, as her work showed, software could make the difference between failure and a groundbreaking success. Continue reading Continue reading

  • Among hundreds of men, trailblazing NASA Engineer JoAnn Morgan was the sole woman present in the locked control room.

    A famous photo shows the control room at Kennedy Space Center on the day of the historic Apollo 11 launch packed with hundreds of men in white shirts and skinny black ties — and, among them, a single woman sits at a console. As Apollo 11 began its flight to the moon on July 16, 1969, 28-year-old instrumentation controller JoAnn Hardin Morgan became the first woman ever permitted in the launch firing room, which is locked down in advance of a space flight. Morgan, who was the first female engineer at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, would go on to have a 40-year-long career at NASA. While she encountered challenges along the way, including being "the only woman there for a long time" and spending the first 15 years working "in a building were there wasn't a ladies rest room," Morgan says that "I had such a passion that overrode anything else, the lonely moments, the little bits of negative. They were like a mosquito bite. You just swat it and push on." Continue reading Continue reading

  • The Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility is located in the West Virginia native's home state.

    "Hidden Figures" mathematician Katherine Johnson played a critical role in NASA's early space program — now, the space agency is honoring her contributions by renaming a NASA software facility after her! The Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility , located in Johnson's home state of West Virginia, is the home of NASA's IV&V Program, which is dedicated to "contributing to the safety and success of NASA’s highest-profile missions" by improving the software used for a variety of space launches and flights. "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," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in an announcement. "It’s a fitting tribute to name the facility that carries on her legacy of mission-critical computations in her honor." Continue reading Continue reading

  • For the first time in history, a woman will serve as NASA's chief flight director.

    NASA took another giant step for equality this week when it named Holly Ridings as its first female chief flight director! Ridings, who is originally from Amarillo, Texas, will lead the flight directors that oversee human spaceflight missions from Mission Control in Houston's Johnson Space Center.  "Holly has proven herself a leader among a group of highly talented flight directors,” says Director of Flight Operations Brian Kelly. "I know she will excel in this unique and critical leadership position providing direction for the safety and success of human spaceflight missions. She will lead the team during exciting times as they adapt to support future missions with commercial partners and beyond low-Earth orbit." Continue reading Continue reading

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