Katherine Johnson – NASA Mathematician by Leila Rasheed


When we think of the moon landing back in July 1969 we think of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. The famous words spoken when the first step was made onto the moon’s surface ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ will never be forgotten.

With every major achievement in this world whether it be passing an exam or landing on the moon there is always a team of experts behind the scenes, making it all possible. Katherine Johnson is one of those experts. Not only was she instrumental in creating the mathematical solutions for the trajectories the astronauts needed for their voyage to the moon and back, she created reports should anything go wrong – a plan B for the plan A that was already in place. Her methodical and conscientious approach to her work at NASA ensured that no stone went unturned when it came to the safety of the crew on board and their return to Earth. Her vigilance and attention to detail were relied upon many times and her legacy remains strong to this very day.

Leila Rasheed’s non-fiction novel on Katherine starts from when she was at school, through her higher education and then onto the turbulent journey she made to achieve her dream of working at NASA during the 50s & 60s of segregated America. Leila has a fantastic way of combining the science required to get a human on the moon and the world Katherine lived in as she made her name in mathematics as a black female.

This book not only provides insightful information on NASA, the numerous Apollo missions and a behind-the-scenes look at the space program, it is also a brilliant snapshot in history from Katherine’s time and should be in every school library to be devoured by all. Katherine Johnson was such an inspirational figure in a male-dominated world. Her message of hope will remain with every reader – if you have passion and drive to succeed, then who knows where you’ll go, what you’ll become and the difference you might make to world!

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