Mary Golda Ross
Mary Golda Ross (1908–2008), a member of the Cherokee Nation, was the first known Native American aerospace engineer. She joined Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in 1942 as a mathematician. In 1952, at the dawn of the space age, she was the first woman on a team of 40 engineers dedicated to Lockheed’s top-secret Advanced Development Projects, nicknamed the Skunk Works. Ross’s early space projects included satellites and missiles. She helped develop operational requirements for spacecraft that were eventually used by the Apollo program. Ross also contributed to NASA’s Planetary Flight Handbook, making what were likely the earliest mechanical studies for missions to Mars and Venus.