FAIRMONT, W.Va. – On Aug. 26, 1918, in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Katherine Johnson was born. 104 years later, the NASA IV&V Program celebrated Katherine Johnson Day in recognition of her accomplishments.
“Katherine Johnson was a true pioneer and as a West Virginia native, and West Virginia State University graduate, it is an honor to have our Program anchored in a physical facility, in West Virginia, that bears her name,” Program Director Wes Deadrick said. “Frequently, when I pull onto University Drive and see her name on the front of our building [Katherine Johnson IV&V Facility], I am reminded of challenges and adversity she faced and strived to overcome on a daily basis.”
Johnson’s talents were apparent early on. She was attending the high school on the campus of West Virginia State College by age 13 and enrolled in the college itself at 18. In 1929, she was even selected among the first Black students offered spots at West Virginia University.
At NASA, Johnson made a name for herself. Before the 1962 orbital flight of John Glenn, Glenn wanted Johnson to double check the same numbers that had already gone through computers. She accomplished this by hand on a desktop mechanical calculating machine.
Katherine Johnson died in 2020 at 101 years old. She is considered an important figure in women’s history and the fight for equality in the United States. She has said, “girls are capable of doing everything men are capable of doing.”
“As the Director for the NASA IV&V Program, I am exceptionally proud of our Program’s continued recognition of the impact Katherine Johnson has had on women’s equality and breaking down barriers to inclusion,” Deadrick said.