Mathematician Dr. Gladys West, who is among a small number of women who did computing for the United States military before electronic systems, was recognized with one of the Air Force Space Command's highest honors.
Dr. Gladys West was inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Pentagon on December 6. Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, presented her with the award for her contributions to the Air Force's space program.
In 1956, Dr. Gladys West was hired as a mathematician at the U.S. Naval Weapons Laboratory. In the 1960s, she participated in study that proved the regularity of Pluto’s motion relative to Neptune.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Dr. Gladys West "using complex algorithms to account for variations in gravitational, tidal, and other forces that distort Earth’s shape, she programmed an IBM 7030 “Stretch” computer to deliver increasingly refined calculations for an extremely accurate geodetic Earth model, a geoid, optimized for what ultimately became the Global Positioning System (GPS) orbit," according to the Air Force Space Command.