"From 1958 until she retired in 1983, [Katherine Johnson] worked as an aerospace technologist." #readingToday
From 1953 through 1958, Johnson worked as a "computer", doing analysis for topics such as gust alleviation for aircraft. Originally assigned to the West Area Computers section which was supervised by mathematician Dorothy Vaughan, she was reassigned to the Guidance and Control Division of Langley's Flight Research Division. From 1958 until she retired in 1983, she worked as an aerospace technologist. She later moved to the Spacecraft Controls Branch. She calculated the trajectory for the space flight of Alan Shepard, the first American in space, in 1959. She also calculated the launch window for his 1961 Mercury mission. She plotted backup navigational charts for astronauts in case of electronic failures. In 1962, when NASA used electronic computers for the first time to calculate John Glenn's orbit around Earth, officials called on her to verify the computer's numbers. Johnson later worked directly with digital computers. Her ability and reputation for accuracy helped to establish confidence in the new technology. She calculated the trajectory for the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the Moon. During the moon landing, Johnson was at a meeting in the Pocono Mountains. She and a few others crowded around a small television screen watching the first steps on the moon. In 1970, Johnson worked on Apollo 13's mission to the Moon. Once the mission was aborted, Johnson's work on backup procedures and charts helped safely return the crew to Earth four days later. Later in her career, she worked on the Space Shuttle program, the Earth Resources Satellite, and on plans for a mission to Mars.