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Hidden Figures

  • Broadcast in History
Noah Batts

Noah Batts


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Before there was ever a GPS there was Katherine Johnson. The first to be self-taught and to later become an expert in the FORTRAN programming coding language was Dorothy Vaughan. And before there were any Women Engineers there was Mary Jackson. What do these three women have in common? All three worked for NASA and was responsible for calculating the important Mathematical Data needed to launch NASA's first successful Space Missions. During World War II, NASA expanded its effort to hire African-American women  for the tedious and precise work of measuring and calculating the results of wind tunnel tests In a time before the electronic computers we know today, these women had the job title of “computer.” . NASA was so pleased with the results that, unlike many organizations, they kept the women computers at work after the war.  By 1953 the growing demands of early space research meant there were openings for African-American computers at Langley Research Center’s Guidance and Navigation Department and Katherine Johnson found the perfect place to put her extraordinary mathematical skills to work. Dorothy Johnson Vaughan was an African-American mathematics teacher who became one of the leading mathematical engineers in early days of the aerospace industry. Vaughan worked with leading computer operators/engineers and worked on the SCOUT Launch Vehicle Program that shot satellites into space. In Mary Jackson's 30 year career at NASA she was one of first promoted from mathematician to engineer. It is a shame that these 3 Black Women and plenty of other Sisters whose mathematical skills that propelled Americas Space Program was not recognized by this country until the Obama Adminstration in 2015 only attests to the power and strength of the Black Woman who is truly a Hidden Figure