West Area Computing Unit at Langley T-Shirt 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 T-Shirts

This soft, vintage-feel t-shirt comes pre-washed and pre-shrunk, making sure that your size and color will hold up with time. Ring-spun yarn makes it feel lighter than a regular cotton t-shirt, and it's softer and more durable. 100% ring-spun cotton, Pre-washed, Double-stitched neckline, Crew neck. Our men's shirts are the Bella + Canvas 3001 and our women's shirts are Anvil 880. Printed in Los Angeles, CA. International orders may be subject to customs duties & taxes. Note: Our apparel generally runs small so we encourage you to order one size larger than you normally would.


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.

Shop this campaign