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Category: NASA
  • 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

  • The Trailblazing Mathematician Celebrated Her 100th Birthday This Week


    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!

    Johnson was one of NASA's "human computers," a group of female mathematicians who calculated critical equations for rocket design, launch trajectories, and more. During her 35-year career at NASA, during which she was forced to overcome both gender and racial barriers, Johnson's skills in celestial navigation were renowned. She calculated — by hand — the flight trajectories for a number of historic missions, including the Alan Shepard's space voyage aboard Freedom 7 in 1961 and the Apollo 11 flight to the Moon in 1969. Now, this inspiring woman's contributions to the history of crewed space flight is finally being celebrated by the nation and the world.

    In honor of Katherine Johnson's 100th birthday, we've showcased a variety of books for all ages about the life and work of this trailblazing mathematician. These books capture Johnson's incredible determination, intelligence, and drive, and provide a stellar example for the next generation of pioneers! 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

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