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NASA Renames Facility After Katherine Johnson, Trailblazing Mathematician



NASA is Friday officially renamed a facility in West Virginia after Katherine Johnson, an African-American mathematician and centenarian whose barrier-breaking career was depicted in the film "Hidden Figures."

The 2016 film, based on a book Released earlier that year, depicted the struggle of Ms. Johnson and other black women for equality at NASA during the height of the space age and segregation. The mathematician traced the trajectories of crucial missions in the 1960s

"I am thrilled that we are honoring Katherine Johnson in this way, as she is a true American icon who overcame incredible obstacles and inspired so many," Jim Bridenstine, the administrator of NASA, said Friday in a statement.

The newly renamed facility, which is located in Fairmont, W.Va., will now be known as the Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility. According to the agency's website,

"So happy and proud to see Katherine Johnson's legacy cemented," Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia said on Twitter

President Trump signed the measure to rename the facility after Ms. Johnson in December after Congress passed a bill introduced by Senator Capito to do so, according to a NASA spokeswoman.

Ms. Johnson, who turned 100 in August, "remains in awe and honored by" the accolades she received, Joylette Hylick, one of Ms. Johnson's daughters, said on Friday. Ms. Hylick said her mother "can not imagine why people would want to honor her for just doing a good job."

NASA's decision to name the facility for Ms. Johnson is not the first time she has been celebrated on the national stage. In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Ms. Johnson was not always respected. Called "colored computers," she and other black women who worked at NASA's computing pool more than a half-century ago were separated from their white colleagues while they calculated trajectories for Apollo missions and other programs. Ms. Johnson tracked the orbits of certain major missions, including Alan Shepard's Freedom 7 in 1961 and John Glenn's Friendship 7 in 1962, the agency said.


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