West Area Computing Unit at Langley by Katarina Eriksson


Artist Statement

This "space mission patch" isn't for specific mission, but for the "WEST AREA COMPUTING UNIT" celebrating the women of colour working as computers (the original, human kind) calculating orbits etc for the engineers at NASA's predecessor NACA at Langley Research Center in the 40's and 50's. Later on they were finally merged with other units. They were portrayed in Margot Lee Shatterly's excellent novelised documentary book HIDDEN FIGURES, that was then excellently adapted into a film. One of the members was Mathematician Katherine Johnson, who provided the trajectory analysis for astronaut John Glenn's Mercury orbital spaceflight (a first for the USA). Even though that flight took place after the West Area Computers' time, their work led to this and other rocket launches, and they continued in other positions at NACA and NASA. The exhaust smoke from the rocket is made up of actual equations copied from Johnson's and T. H. Skopinski's technical report 'Determination of Azimuth Angle at Burnout for Placing a Satellite Over a Selected Earth Position' that was used to calculate the trajectory of Glenn's Mercury capsule. The rocket in the image is the Atlas LV-3B carrying the Mercury capsule namned Friendship 7. February is black history month, and John Glenn flew on the Mercury 20 February 1962. - Katarina Eriksson

Katarina Eriksson is a Swedish graphic designer and architect with a long-time interest in space and science. She runs her own design company out of Lund, Sweden and works with the world.

About our Prints

Each poster is hand-printed and handled, to make sure that only the highest quality is offered and sent out. The matte paper and high quality of inks make for a vibrant image which looks great both framed, and au-naturel. Printed in Los Angeles, CA, on Epson Enhanced Matte Paper, heavyweight stock, high color gamut, using Epson UltraChrome HDR ink-jet technology. Framed posters offer the same, museum-quality printed poster, but wrapped in a protective black frame. The frame is lightweight and includes a shatter-resistant acrylite front protector, so it won't break in the mail. International orders may be subject to customs duties & taxes.


Space Horizons is a new collection of mission patch designs for your favorite past, present and future missions to help engage a new generation in the excitement of extending humanity’s reach beyond Earth. Proceeds support Space Horizons, an innovative non profit that promotes interest in STEM education for minority and female students in underserved communities.

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