Annie Easley was born in Alabama in 1933. Living in the South American states at that time meant being subjected to laws called “Jim Crow” which primarily sought to prevent African Americans from voting. In this circumstance Easley pledged to help his community pass the ridiculous test they had to undergo in order to have the right to vote.
Contrary to what happened in her life, Easley wanted to become a nurse and in order to do it she enrolled at Xavier University but her pharmacy course was closed. So, she changed her address and enrolled in mathematics, becoming one of the first American space scientists. She had in fact heard of twins who worked at NACA, which would soon become NASA, as human calculators. She knew she could do the same and in 1955 she started working at the NACA Lewis Research Center.
After the launch of the Russian Sputnik in 1957, NASA committed all its personnel to be able to launch a rocket into space in the shortest possible time. In 1958, the Centaur project was developing a new duplex stage for high-energy launch vehicles.
Easley worked on one of the first computer programs ever created to make space navigation possible. Since the 1960s, this upper stage of NASA’s rockets has been used in more than one hundred satellites and probes launches into space. The Centaur is still considered one of NASA’s most important research projects.
In the 1970s, NASA began to focus its attention on Earth again, as energy crisis was underway and scientists knew that new ways of producing fuels had to be found. Easley did a lot of important research on next generation power plants and batteries and created a computer program that could measure solar winds! Her work on electric batteries formed the basis for the development of today’s hybrid vehicles.
Annie Easley understood that flexibility, self-confidence and hard work could open up incredible opportunities.
Quote: “If I can’t work with you, I will work around you”