NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, one of the inspirations for the book and the 2016 Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures, died this morning. She was 101 years old.
Jim Bridenstine, a NASA administrator, wrote on Twitter, “Our @NASA family is sad to learn the news that Katherine Johnson passed away this morning at 101 years old. She was an American hero and her pioneering legacy will never be forgotten.”
Katherine Johnson, originally from White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, made history as one of the first Blackk women to work as a NASA scientist. Her calculations of orbital mechanics were crucial to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. crewed spaceflights, most notably, John Glenn, the first American in orbit in 1962.
In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded Katherine Johnson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Obama said about Johnson at the time that Johnson was “a pioneer in American space history."
In 2016, Tarai P. Henson portrayed Johnson in the Hidden Figures film.
In 2017, Katherine Johnson humbly downplayed her role in history. She told The Washington Post, “There’s nothing to it — I was just doing my job.”
(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)