Thanks for logging in.

You can now click/tap WATCH to start the live stream.

Thanks for logging in.

You can now click/tap LISTEN to start the live stream.

Thanks for logging in.

You can now click/tap LATEST NEWS to start the live stream.

LISTEN
Watch
on air now

Create a 2GB account today!

You can now log in once to listen live, watch live, join competitions, enjoy exclusive 2GB content and other benefits.


Joining is easy.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson dies aged 101

Michael McLaren

Adam Spencer, Sydney Uni’s Mathematics ambassador & author, joins Michael to praise the life and legacy of Katherine Johnson, the American mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. crewed space flights and subject of the 2016 film Hidden Figures.

 

During her 35-year career at NASA and its predecessor, she earned a reputation for mastering complex manual calculations and helped pioneer the use of computers to perform the tasks.

 

The space agency noted her “historical role as one of the first African-American women to work as a NASA scientist”.

 

Johnson’s work included calculating trajectories; launch windows and emergency return paths for Project Mercury spaceflights, including those for astronauts Alan Shepard, the first American in space, and John Glenn, the first American in orbit, and rendezvous paths for the Apollo Lunar Module and command module on flights to the Moon.

 

Her calculations were also essential to the beginning of the Space Shuttle program, and she worked on plans for a mission to Mars.

 

In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded Johnson the Presidential Medal of Freedom and in 2019 she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

Download this podcast here

Michael McLaren
Advertisement