Culture

Pioneering NASA Mathematician, Katherine Johnson Tells Her Own Story in Upcoming Autobiography

Pioneering NASA Mathematician, Katherine Johnson Tells Her Own Story in Upcoming Autobiography

 Photo: Daily Press  

Margot Lee Shetterly told the story of pioneering NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson in her 2016 non-fiction book "Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race." Then a year later, in 2017, the story was brought to the big screen. Now, it's Johnson's turn to tell her life story in her own words. 

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the 100-year-old wrote an autobiography for middle grade readers called "Reaching for the Moon," saying in a news release that she "never worried about what people thought of me or what they believed my limitations were because of my color or my gender."  

She added: "I want young people to feel the same way when reading my story. I want them to see that it doesn't matter where you came from, what you look like or what your gender is. You're no better or worse than anyone out there and there’s nothing you can’t do as long as you put your mind to it. You can be a doctor or a lawyer or even help put a person on the moon."

Photo: Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster

When Johnson was hired by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (now known as NASA) in 1953, she became a part of a trailblazing group of Black women who worked as "human computers." Johnson went on to calculate historic flight trajectories for the first American to go into space, for the first American to orbit earth, and the flight path for the first human trip to the moon. 

For her contributions to the space program, Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 from President Barack Obama and NASA honored her with a building bearing her name. NASA's Katherine Johnson Computational Research Facility officially opened in September of 2017.  

Johnson's "Reaching for the Moon" is set to be released this September.