Margaret Hamilton, Computer Programmer

“In the early 1960s, Margaret Hamilton began her career as a pioneering programmer and systems designer. And when NASA launched a series of missions that led to the first astronauts on the moon, Hamilton was director of the Software Engineering Division at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Instrumentation Laboratory, developing the mission’s onboard flight software.” Read more about this remarkable woman and watch her oral history interview video here.

Former NASA Flight Director Dies

“Glynn S. Lunney, one of NASA’s first flight directors, who had a major role in guiding astronauts to the moon and whose cool decision-making under pressure helped save the Apollo 13 mission in 1970 after an onboard explosion, died March 19 at his home in Clear Lake, Tex. He was 84.” Read the full article which includes a link to a documentary about Apollo 13, and also an oral history with Lunney, here.

Katherine Johnson, NASA mathematician dies

When Katherine Johnson ­began working at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in 1953, she was classified as “subprofessional,” not far outranking a secretary or janitor. Hers was a labor not of scheduling or cleaning but rather of mathematics: using a slide rule or mechanical calculator in complex calculations to check the work of her superiors — engineers who, unlike her, were white and male. Her title, poached by the technology that would soon make the services of many of her colleagues obsolete, was “computer.” Read full story here. There is a link in story too her oral history.

Women in space program

All 12 people who walked on the moon were men. But among the 400,000 people who made it possible, there were numerous unsung women, from computer engineers and mathematicians to secretaries and seamstresses. Today, as America contemplates a return to the moon, there is resolve to ensure women aren’t in the background, but are instead the astronauts leading the way. Fifty years after Apollo, David Smith tells the stories of some of the women who helped put a man on the moon. Read full article here.

From the NASA Oral History Project

By the time she arrived at NASA, Margaret Brennecke, who usually went by the nickname “Hap,” was an old hand at engineering. And when the the Saturn V rocket launched the astronauts of the Apollo program to the Moon, it was in part thanks to Brennecke’s work.  Born in 1911, Brennecke earned her degree in chemistry from the Ohio State University in 1934 and continued on with graduate research in metallurgy at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the University of Pittsburgh; and the University of California in Los Angeles. She went on to work as a metallurgist for the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) for 22 years, including during World War II. Her work included finding the best materials and welding techniques for aircraft, bridges, and even the landing craft made famous during the D-Day invasion at Normandy in 1944. Read full story here.

Do you remember the moon landing?

Do you remember the Apollo mission? Or do you have family members or friends with memories of the Apollo era? Then you can contribute your stories to a new NASA project. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the historic moon landing which happened on July 20, 1969, and was one of the most important days in living memory of space exploration. To celebrate this anniversary, NASA is launching an audio project called Apollo Stories which invites the public to submit their memories about where they were when the moon landing happened, what impact the moon landing had on them, and what else they remember about that time. For full story click here.

Death of “Mother of Hubble”

“The astronomical community marked the passing of former NASA Chief of Astronomy Nancy Grace Roman earlier this week. Roman, who founded the agency’s program for space astronomy in 1959 and played a central role in planning and developing the Hubble Space Telescope, was the first woman to hold an executive position at NASA.”  For full story, including link to oral history click here.

NASA’s Cassini Mission

In the predawn hours Friday, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will make a suicide dive into Saturn’s atmosphere, vaporizing like a tiny meteor in the vast Saturnian sky.  It will be a fiery end for a spacecraft built and flown by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory that has spent the last 13 years exploring the ringed planet and its many moons.  For full story click here.