Katherine Johnson

Why Was Katherine Johnson Famous?

Katherine Johnson (1918-2020) was a pioneering American mathematician at NASA who took an instrumental role in the success of the space program. She was a “human computer” who carried out the intricate computations necessary for humans to successfully launch into space. In 2015, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Katherine Johnson Biography
Photo: Csmonitor/Celeblifegraphy

Early Life And Education

Katherine Johnson was born on August 26, 1918, in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Johnson demonstrated remarkable mathematical skills at an early age. She persevered in the face of discrimination based on her race and gender and gained recognition for her accuracy in computerized celestial navigation.

She graduated summa cum laude with degrees in mathematics and French at the age of 18. Scientist Johnson began her career as a teacher before becoming one of the first African American female computers at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which eventually became NASA.

NASA Pioneer

Johnson’s contributions to NASA include her work on Project Mercury, where she determined the trajectory for Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 mission in 1961, which made him the first American in space. Additionally, she determined the course for John Glenn’s 1962 Friendship 7 mission, which allowed him to become the first American to orbit the planet. Her computations were also essential to the Space Shuttle and Apollo programs.

Description In Media

Her story gained widespread recognition following the release of the book “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly in 2016 on Johnson, which was later turned into an Oscar-nominated feature film.


Throughout her career, Johnson was awarded numerous accolades including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 by President Barack Obama for her pioneering work at NASA.

Husband And Children

In 1939, Johnson wed James Francis Goble, with whom she had three daughters such as Joylette, Katherine, and Constance.

Death And Legacy

She died on February 24, 2020 at the age of 101, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire & empower others to pursue careers in science and mathematics.

Interesting Facts About Katherine Johnson

  • Article Title: Katherine Johnson Biography
  • Full Name: Katherine Johnson
  • Birth Year: 1918
  • Birth Date: August 26, 1918
  • Birth State: West Virginia
  • Birth City: White Sulfur Springs
  • Birth Country: United States
  • Gender: Female
  • Industries: Space Exploration
  • Schools: West Virginia University, West Virginia State College
  • Spouse: James A. Johnson (m. 1959–2019), James Francis Goble (m. 1939–1956)
  • Children: Joylette Goble, Katherine Goble, Constance Goble
  • Parents: Joylette Coleman, Joshua Coleman
  • Awards: Presidential Medal of Freedom (2015), and more
  • Death Year: 2020
  • Death Date: February 24, 2020
  • Author: Celeblifegraphy.com Editors

Famous Quotes

  • Everything was so new – the whole idea of going into space was new and daring. There were no textbooks, so we had to write them.
  • I counted everything. I counted the steps to the road, the steps up to church, the number of dishes and silverware I washed … anything that could be counted, I did.
  • The women did what they were told to do. They didn’t ask questions or take the task any further. I asked questions; I wanted to know why. They got used to me asking questions and being the only woman there.
  • Everything is physics and math.
  • You are no better than anyone else, and no one is better than you.
  • Girls are capable of doing everything men are capable of doing. Sometimes they have more imagination than men.