Katherine Johnson: Human "computer"
Katherine Johnson, a mathematician and physicist, worked for NASA as a "computer" from the 1950s until the 1980s. Originally part of a group of women who performed precise mathematical calculations, when she was assigned temporarily to an all-male research team, she quickly proved her value and talent. In 1959 she calculated the flight trajectory for the first manned American spaceflight, and in 1969 she calculated the trajectory of the Apollo 11 spaceflight to the moon. Even after NASA started using electronic computers in 1962, Johnson would verify the computer calculations.
Johnson broke barriers as both a woman and an African-American working in the sciences. Among her many honors, Johnson has won the NASA Langley Research Center Special Acheivement award five times.