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NASA Headquarters To Be Named After ‘Hidden Figure’ Mary W. Jackson

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Mary W. Jackson is a NASA pioneer and the organization is going to honor her contributions. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Wednesday the agency’s headquarters building in Washington, D.C., will be named after Mary W. Jackson.

Jackson was the first African American female engineer at NASA.

“Mary W. Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped NASA succeed in getting American astronauts into space. Mary never accepted the status quo, she helped break barriers and open opportunities for African Americans and women in the field of engineering and technology,” said Bridenstine.

“Today, we proudly announce the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building. It appropriately sits on ‘Hidden Figures Way,’ a reminder that Mary is one of many incredible and talented professionals in NASA’s history who contributed to this agency’s success. Hidden no more, we will continue to recognize the contributions of women, African Americans, and people of all backgrounds who have made NASA’s successful history of exploration possible.”

 

In 2019, she was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

The work of the West Area Computing Unit caught widespread national attention in the 2016 Margot Lee Shetterly book “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.”

The book was made into a popular movie that same year and Jackson’s character was played by award-winning actress Janelle Monáe.

In 1951, Jackson was recruited by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which in 1958 was succeeded by NASA.

She started as a research mathematician who became known as one of the human computers at Langley.

She worked under fellow “Hidden Figure” Dorothy Vaughan in the segregated West Area Computing Unit.

After two years in the computing pool, Jackson received an offer to work in the 4-foot by 4-foot Supersonic Pressure Tunnel, a 60,000 horsepower wind tunnel capable of blasting models with winds approaching twice the speed of sound.

 

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