Northrop Grumman spacecraft honors Katherine Johnson

Northrop Grumman spacecraft honors Katherine Johnson

 February 03, 2021

 Read time

To mark Black History Month, Northrop Grumman is naming its next Cygnus spacecraft in honor of mathematician and NASA employee Katherine Johnson whose handwritten math launched the first Americans into space. 

Northrop Grumman uses Cygnus to perform International Space Station (ISS) resupply flights.

Honoring a woman who broke barriers of gender and race

It is a company tradition to name each Cygnus spacecraft after an individual who has played a pivotal role in human spaceflight.

Northrop Grumman's NG-15 Cygnus spacecraft celebrates a Black woman who time and again broke through barriers of gender and race and whose hand-written calculations were critical to America’s success during history's first human spaceflight missions.

Supporting the first steps towards human space flight

In 1957, Katherine Johnson joined NACA's Space Task Group—which became NASA later that year—and the team that the first steps towards human space flight.

During her time in the Space Task Group, she performed the trajectory analysis for Alan Shepard’s May 1961 Freedom 7 mission—the country’s first human spaceflight.

She also co-authored a paper on orbital spaceflight and landing, becoming the first woman to receive credit as an author of a research paper at NASA.

She is most well-known for her work behind John Glenn’s orbital mission around the Earth. John specifically requested that Katherine run the computer’s calculations by hand to proofread its work, saying “if she says they’re good, then I’m ready to go.”

Be part of exciting projects at Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman is recognized across the world as a leader in space. They've been Defining Possible above the atmosphere for over 60 years and we’re still leading the way today.

The company provides end-to-end space capabilities for a broad range of customers like NASA, the Department of Defense (DoD), US Air Force, US Space Force and a variety of commercial entities.

Rise above the atmosphere and start your own career at Northrop Grumman.


Find out more

Stay connected by subscribing to our monthly newsletter and following us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

Share this page:

  Linkedin     X     Instagram     Facebook     Press release 

Join our women's careers community