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15 Quotes by NASA Scientist Katherine Johnson

Welcome to our collection of quotes by Katherine Johnson. We hope you enjoy pondering them and please share widely.

Wikipedia Summary for Katherine Johnson

Creola Katherine Johnson (née Coleman; August 26, 1918 – February 24, 2020) was an American mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. crewed spaceflights. During her 33-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. In 2016, she was presented with the Silver Snoopy Award by NASA astronaut Leland D. Melvin and a NASA Group Achievement Award. She was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson as a lead character in the 2016 film Hidden Figures. In 2019, Johnson was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Donald Trump. In 2021, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Quote: I liked working with smart people. by author Katherine Johnson overlaid on photo of two gold-colored skeleton keys
Photo Credit: Marci Angeles

I liked working with smart people.


Quote: Men don't pay attention to small things. by author Katherine Johnson overlaid on photo of four coffee cups on floor
Photo Credit: Brooke Lark

Men don't pay attention to small things.


Quote: I was just excited to have challenging work to do and smart people to work with. by author Katherine Johnson overlaid on photo of black wooden louver door window
Photo Credit: Inés Castellano

I was just excited to have challenging work to do and smart people to work with.


Quote: I like to learn. That's an art and a science. by author Katherine Johnson overlaid on photo of photo of author Katherine Johnson with quote

I like to learn. That's an art and a science.


Quote: Let me do it. You tell me when you want it and where you want it to land, and I'll do it backwards and tell you when to take off. by author Katherine Johnson overlaid on photo of stars across the sky view at the desert
Photo Credit: Jean Carlo Emer

Let me do it. You tell me when you want it and where you want it to land, and I'll do it backwards and tell you when to take off.


Quote: I felt most proud on the success of the Apollo mission. by author Katherine Johnson overlaid on photo of photo of author Katherine Johnson with quote

I felt most proud on the success of the Apollo mission.


Quote: Like what you do, and then you will do your best. by author Katherine Johnson overlaid on photo of photo of author Katherine Johnson with quote

Like what you do, and then you will do your best.


Quote: I found what I was looking for at Langley. This was what a research mathematician did. I went to work every day for 33 years happy. Never did I get up and say I don't want to go to work. by author Katherine Johnson overlaid on photo of photo of author Katherine Johnson with quote

I found what I was looking for at Langley. This was what a research mathematician did. I went to work every day for 33 years happy. Never did I get up and say I don't want to go to work.


Quote: Everything was so new -- the whole idea of going into space was new and daring. There were no textbooks, so we had to write them. by author Katherine Johnson overlaid on photo of photo of author Katherine Johnson with quote

Everything was so new -- the whole idea of going into space was new and daring. There were no textbooks, so we had to write them.


Quote: I counted everything. I counted the steps to the road, the steps up to church, the number of dishes and silverware I washed... anything that could be counted, I did. by author Katherine Johnson overlaid on photo of photo of author Katherine Johnson with quote

I counted everything. I counted the steps to the road, the steps up to church, the number of dishes and silverware I washed... anything that could be counted, I did.


Quote: John Glenn's life will long be remembered for his time in space, his courage, and his service to all Americans. by author Katherine Johnson overlaid on photo of photo of author Katherine Johnson with quote

John Glenn's life will long be remembered for his time in space, his courage, and his service to all Americans.


Quote: I see a picture right now that's not parallel, so I'm going to go straighten it. Things must be in order. by author Katherine Johnson overlaid on photo of photo of author Katherine Johnson with quote

I see a picture right now that's not parallel, so I'm going to go straighten it. Things must be in order.


Quote: Go see 'Hidden Figures,' and take a young person! It will give a more positive outlook on what is possible if you work hard, do your best, and are prepared. by author Katherine Johnson overlaid on photo of photo of author Katherine Johnson with quote

Go see 'Hidden Figures,' and take a young person! It will give a more positive outlook on what is possible if you work hard, do your best, and are prepared.


Quote: Many professors tell you that you'd be good at this or that, but they don't always help you with that career path. by author Katherine Johnson overlaid on photo of photo of author Katherine Johnson with quote

Many professors tell you that you'd be good at this or that, but they don't always help you with that career path.


Quote: Girls are capable of doing everything men are capable of doing. Sometimes they have more imagination than men. by author Katherine Johnson overlaid on photo of photo of author Katherine Johnson with quote

Girls are capable of doing everything men are capable of doing. Sometimes they have more imagination than men.


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