Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon’s surface for the first time in human history, followed shortly by Buzz Aldrin.
They did not get there on their own. Command Module Pilot Michael Collins stayed in the spacecraft orbiting the moon, and back on Earth, there were thousands of people working to make sure that both the voyage and the journey back were as safe as possible, and not all of them were men.
To name a few, software engineer Margaret Hamilton was in charge of developing the in-flight software; mathematician Katherine Johnson calculated the rendezvous paths for the command and lunar modules, and engineer JoAnn Morgan worked the instrumentation controller.
Electrical engineer Judith Love Cohen also played an important role. She had been tasked with designing the Abort-Guidance System for Lunar Module just in case the crew decided to abort the mission even before reaching the moon.
During the Apollo 13 mission, the team utilized that same AGS as a backup computer when the power failed in the command module.
Those accomplishments only scratched the surface of her long-lasting legacy for women and the world.
10 /10 Geometry For Fun
Cohen was born in 1933 to a working-class father and mother in Brooklyn, New York. Her father was a soda salesman who, from early on, taught her about basic geometry, equation, lines, and angles.
He often used ashtrays to demonstrate those objects. The women in the family, including her mother and aunts, worked at Great Uncle Harry’s dress factory in Brooklyn.
Young Cohen seemed to enjoy sewing laced doilies in her spare time, but anytime she wanted to have real fun, she turned to her father and learned math.
9 /10 State Scholarship
Not only did Cohen love spending time with her father, but he also was very good at math. During their early teenage years, Cohen was the only female student in intermediate algebra class.
By the time she was in fifth grade, other kids had started paying her to finish their math homework. In high school, she earned a state scholarship to Brooklyn College and was serious about becoming a math teacher.
For a time, she was a performer with the New York’s Metropolitan Ballet Company, but she knew that her real passion was in engineering.