Katherine Johnson, NASA mathematician portrayed in 'Hidden Figures,' has died
Johnson, 101, calculated rocket trajectories, earth orbits by hand for early space missions
NASA says Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who worked on NASA's early space missions and was portrayed in the film Hidden Figures, about pioneering black female aerospace workers, has died.
In a Monday morning tweet, the space agency said it celebrates her 101 years of life and her legacy of excellence and breaking down racial and social barriers.
We're saddened by the passing of celebrated <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HiddenFigures?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HiddenFigures</a> mathematician Katherine Johnson. Today, we celebrate her 101 years of life and honor her legacy of excellence that broke down racial and social barriers: <a href="https://t.co/Tl3tsHAfYB">https://t.co/Tl3tsHAfYB</a> <a href="https://t.co/dGiGmEVvAW">pic.twitter.com/dGiGmEVvAW</a>—@NASA
Johnson was one of the so-called "computers" who calculated rocket trajectories and earth orbits by hand during NASA's early years.
Until 1958, Johnson and other black women worked in a racially segregated computing unit at what is now called Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Their work was the focus of the Oscar-nominated 2016 film.
Our <a href="https://twitter.com/NASA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NASA</a> 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. <a href="https://t.co/UPOqo0sLfb">https://t.co/UPOqo0sLfb</a> <a href="https://t.co/AgtxRnA89h">pic.twitter.com/AgtxRnA89h</a>—@JimBridenstine
In 1961, Johnson worked on the first mission to carry an American into space. In 1962, she verified computer calculations that plotted John Glenn's earth orbits.
At age 97, Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honour.