Female NASA Mathematician Will Receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Female NASA Mathematician Will Receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom


Nov 18, 2015

A female NASA mathematician will receive the United States' highest civilian honor.

Katherine Johnson, 97, was named as one the recipients to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is presented to individuals who have made "especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

Johnson's worked as a mathematician at the NASA Langely Research Center for more than three decades — she retired in 1986.

The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which preceded NASA, hired Johnson after opening hiring to African-Americans.

According to the White House, her computations have influenced every major space program from Mercury through the Shuttle program.

She is best known for her calculations that helped send the first American into space, and the first American to orbit Earth, according to ABC13.

"Katherine G. Johnson is a pioneer in American space history," the White House said on Monday.

Johnson will be honored at a ceremony at the White House on November 24. 

Watch her exclusive MAKERS story above.

NEXT: France Córdova Becomes First Female Chief Scientist at NASA »

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