(born 1918) is an African-American mathematician whose calculations of
employee were critical to the success of U.S.
. During her 35-year career at NASA and its predecessor, the
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
, she earned a reputation for mastering complex manual calculations and helped the space agency pioneer the use of computers to perform tasks. She worked on the calculation of trajectories,
and emergency return paths for
spaceflights, including those of
, respectively the first Americans in space and in orbit.
Johnson later worked with the
Apollo program, calculating rendezvous paths for the lunar lander and command module on its flights to the Moon. Her calculations were essential to the beginning of the Space Shuttle program and she also worked on plans for a mission to Mars. In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, as a pioneering example of African-American women in STEM. She was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson as a lead character in the 2016 film . This picture, taken in 1966, shows Johnson at her desk at Hidden Figures Langley Research Center. Photograph credit:
NASA; restored by Adam Cuerden PGP (0x854AC54D440C7611) Recall
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