Mary G. Ross was the first female Native American engineer. She was raised in the Cherokee nation capital, Tahlequah. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the Northeastern State Teacher’s college there before going to Colorado State Teacher’s college for her master’s degree. When the U.S. joined WWII, she moved to California to work as a mathematician at Lockheed. While there had her work in their Advanced Development Program, Ross was known for her work on interplanetary space travel, design concepts, earth-orbiting flights, and the earliest studies of satellites. Her work was critical to the Agena rocket project and she coauthored the top secret NASA Planetary Handbook about space travel to Mars and Venus. Though we’re not sure what’s in all those classified papers she’s written, one thing is certain: she pioneered research that jumpstarted the space race and changed history.
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