A brief timeline of her life and greatest achievements
Katherine was born on August 26th, 1918 to Joylette and Joshua Colman. She grew up in the town of White Sulfur Springs in West Virginia.
When a family member mentioned that NACA was hiring people of color, Katherine applied for a job and was offered a position. Until then, she had been a teacher, and was eager for the chance to work as a mathematician for NASA.
Katherine Colman became Katherine Goble when she married her husband, James Francis Goble. They had three children: Constance, Joylette, and Katherine.
Katherine, a gifted student, graduated high school at the age of 14. She then attended West Virginia State college where she graduated summa cum laude with both math and french degrees. She was the first African American woman to do this. In fact, she was one of three African American students to be selected to be the first students of their race at an all white university.
Katherine is studying a plane that crashed due to wake turbulence when her husband, James Goble, dies of an inoperable brain tumor.
Katherine meets and marries James Johnson, a Lieutenant Colonel.
Katherine works as a computer. She started by working in the West Area Computer room, but eventually found herself on a flight research team. She was the only woman.
Working with Ted Skopinski, Katherine wrote the Determination of Azimuth at Burnout for Placing over a Selected Earth Position, a report that predicted the landing sight of the spaceship. She also did trajectory analysis for Alan Shepherd's Freedom 7 in 1961.
Katherine Johnson works to put John Glenn into orbit. She is a vital part of the calculations, and when there is doubt that the new IBM computers are completely accurate, John Glenn specifically asks for her to check the math. He is rumored to have said, "get the girl. If she says they're good, then I'm ready to go.
Katherine retires after working for 33 years. By this time, Katherine had coauthored 26 reports, and worked on Project Apollo's Lunar Lander with the moon-orbiting Command and Service Module. She regards this as her finest achievement.
Katherine Johnson, now 97, is rewarded the Presidential medal of freedom by Barak Obama. She now lives in Hampton Virginia with her husband, where the film "Hidden Figures" was set.