Celebrating Black Scientists: Spaceflight and Aerospace Engineering

Discovery Place Science

The leading hub for science learning in the Carolinas, Discovery Place Science celebrates Black scientists, medical professionals, engineers and inventors past and present who have advanced mental health practices, contributed to spaceflight and aerospace engineering and led the development of modern computer technology and artificial intelligence.

During the past year, Discovery Place Science has proudly hosted inspiring, impactful and interactive exhibitions highlighting these critical areas of science. Currently at the Museum is Mental Health: MIND MATTERS (January 29 – April 10, 2022). Prior exhibitions include Apollo: When We Went to the Moon (October 2, 2021 – January 2, 2022) and Artificial Intelligence: Your Mind & The Machine (January 16 – August 22, 2021).

In this three-part Celebrating Black Scientists series, meet a few of the mental health champions, aerospace trailblazers and computer science pioneers who have made, and continue to make, groundbreaking discoveries and scientific advances—across our communities and our galaxy.


Katherine Johnson | Physicist and Mathematician

Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson was one of the first Black women to work as a NASA scientist, analyzing and calculating the orbital mechanics of spacecraft for more than three decades with the U.S. space program. Johnson helped confirm the accuracy of calculations when NASA began using digital computers. Her calculations were critical to NASA missions sending astronauts into orbit and to the Moon—including Alan Shepherd’s Freedom 7 mission, Project Mercury and the Apollo 11 mission.

Shelby B. Jacobs | Engineer

Shelby B Jacobs

Shelby B. Jacobs spent most of his engineering career designing engine components, hydraulics, pneumatics and propulsion systems as a NASA contractor. Jacobs worked on the Apollo/Saturn and U.S. space shuttle programs. He designed, installed and tested camera technology that captured the famous footage of the separation between the first and second stages of the Saturn V rocket during the launch of the uncrewed Apollo 6 flight.

Stephanie D. Wilson | Astronaut and Engineer

Stephanie D Wilson

Stephanie D. Wilson is an engineer and NASA astronaut who flew her first mission aboard space shuttle Discovery to make repairs to the International Space Station in 2006. The second Black woman to go into space, Wilson is a veteran of three spaceflights and her 42 days in space are the most logged by and Black astronaut. She is a part of NASA’s Artemis missions, which will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon using innovative technologies.

Victor J. Glover, Jr. | Astronaut and Engineer

Victor J Glover

Victor J. Glover is a NASA astronaut and U.S. Navy captain who most recently served as pilot and second-in-command on the Crew-1 SpaceX Crew Dragon flight to the International Space Station. Glover is the first Black astronaut to stay for an extended mission in orbit and served as flight engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 64. He is a part of NASA’s Artemis missions, which will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon using innovative technologies.

Learn more about these and other aerospace trailblazers.