Send America to the moon

Ella Schulte , News Writer

When Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon, he uttered a series of words which would soon become coveted by a nation that is founded upon the belief that there always was and will always be something more to life than just the parts of it that are currently accessible. 

Moreover, Armstrong stated, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Although history was made on July 20, 1969, at the time that Armstrong first came into contact with the powdery surface of the moon, society was not yet aware of the fact that his “one small step for man” was made possible by a woman’s big stride. 

Similarly, that “one giant leap for mankind” was not much of a leap at all according to mathematician Katherine Johnson. Sure, there were risks, but the manned mission was also a premeditated assertion, one of which she was certain of.  

On February 24, 2020, Johnson passed away at a retirement home located in Newport News, Virginia at the age of 101.

Shortly after her passing, writer Margalit Fox stated that, “They asked Katherine Johnson for the moon, and she gave it to them.”

Dedicating her entire life to space exploration, Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nation’s highest and most prestigious civilian honor, back in 2015, for her continual perseverance despite the gender and racial limitations she encountered throughout her career. 

Her impact went on to inspire the creation of “Hidden Figures”, a movie released in 2016 that’s premise is centered around the opportunities that she, as an African-American woman, provided for both astronauts and women of color.  

Not only did she transport astronauts both to and from the moon, but an article published by The New York Times states that she, “… Calculated the precise trajectories that would let Apollo 11 land on the moon in 1969 and, after Neil Armstrong’s history-making moonwalk, let it return to Earth.” 

Over the course of the 33 years she spent as a part of NASA’s Flight Research Division, it is clear that she sought not recognition, but rather to bring a piece of a part of who she was and what she strove for back down to Earth. 

For not only did Johnson send people to the moon, but she sent the moon to them, bringing astronauts and women across the globe one step closer to changing the way that things had always been by proving that they did not always have to stay that way.