Remembering Virginia Norwood, the ‘mother’ of NASA’s Landsat program (

Remembering Virginia Norwood, the ‘mother’ of NASA’s Landsat program

Norwood began working in the 1950s as one of a small group of women at Hughes Aircraft Company, where she gained a reputation as a resourceful problemsolver. She said, I was kind of known as the person who could solve impossible problems, her daughter, Naomi Norwood, told NASA. So people would bring things to her, even pieces of other projects.

Hughes Aircraft / NASA

In the late 1960s, the director of the Geological Survey wanted to take photographs of the Earth from space to help manage land resources partnering with NASA, a plan was hatched to send satellites into space.

Another food lab she applied for asked her to promise not to get pregnant as a condition of her employment. (She withdrew her application.) Finally, the gun manufacturer Remington appreciated her brilliant ideas in an interview but told her they were hiring a man instead.

Her career finally progressed after landing jobs with the US Army Signal Corps Laboratories (where she designed a radar reflector for weather balloons) and Sylvania Electronic Defense Labs (where she set up the companys first antenna lab).

Norwood passed away on March 27th at the age of 96, as reported by NASA and The New York Times.

She achieved all this despite significant pushback from the maledominated industry before and after her rise.


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