NASA to name headquarters after ′trailblazer′ Black engineer Mary Jackson | News | DW | 24.06.2020
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NASA to name headquarters after 'trailblazer' Black engineer Mary Jackson

Mary Jackson was the US space agency's first female African-American engineer whose calculations helped send astronauts into space. Over her decades-long career, she also pushed for the promotion of women at NASA.

NASA's headquarters in Washington DC will be renamed in honor of the US space agency's first African-American female engineer, Mary W. Jackson, officials announced on Wednesday.

"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," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.

Jackson started working for the US space agency in the 1950s at a time when NASA was racially segregated. She was officially promoted to an engineer in 1958.

Her work, and the work of the agency's other black female mathematicians was largely unrecognized until a book and subsequent Hollywood film "Hidden Figures" brought their story into the public.

Read more: NASA taps first woman to lead human spaceflight

"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," Bridenstine said.

Promoting women at NASA

Jackson's daughter, Carolyn Lewis, said that she and the rest of her family were "honored" by NASA's decision.

"She was a scientist, humanitarian, wife, mother, and trailblazer who paved the way for thousands of others to succeed, not only at NASA, but throughout this nation," Lewis said.

Over her decades-long career at NASA, Jackson also led programs that advocated for the hiring and promotion of women at NASA, particularly in the agency's science, technology, engineering and mathematics departments.

Read more: Wanna be an astronaut? Here's how to get your foot in the door at NASA and ESA

Jackson passed away in 2005, but was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to honor her achievements in 2019. 

A formal naming ceremony for the building, which sits on a street called "Hidden Figures Way", is due to be held.


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