A huge win for both space and civil rights happened right in our own backyard.
Yes, you read that right. Welcome to Weird History of The 757 where we tell all the weird and cool things that happened in the area. Tune in every Friday for a new weird fact about Hampton Roads!
Weird Fact No. 1: Hampton, Virginia, was once the base of operations for the National Advisory Committee of Aeronautics (NACA). NACA was taken over by our beloved National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958.
When NASA took over, the headquarters moved to Washington, D.C., and Hampton's base became NASA Langley Research Center.
Courtesy of the Virginian Pilot
Weird Fact No. 2: This isn't weird so much as it is cool. In 1958, the Hampton base for NACA hired Katherine Johnson, who had earned her bachelor's degree in mathematics from West Virginia State College. She was one of the first few women on the team of researchers behind the journey into space made by John Glenn. Two other women worked with Katherine Johnson as well: Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughn.
Katherine Johnson, courtesy of NASA
A fellow former West Virginia State alum who was in charge of the laboratory at Langley Research Center, Vaughn was the one who put Johnson on the project where her math calculations would eventually be trusted by the astronauts themselves. Actually, Johnson's mathematical notes added to many of NASA's research documents throughout her career. To read more about those documents and Johnson's influence on them, check out her biography from NASA.
Johnson's intelligence and courage broke down barriers for African-American women everywhere, and she is a bright example to the future youth of America and the world. Taraji P. Henson portrayed her in the Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures (2016). Henson was joined by costars Janelle Monae, Olivia Spencer, and Glenn Powell to give us the full story of what happened behind closed doors at the base in Hampton during that time. Now next time the movie is on, our Hampton locals may feel all the more proud!
What is your favorite space fact? What other weird facts about "The 757" do you want us to explore? Tell us in the comments!