Katherine Johnson was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson in the 2016 film Hidden Figures.
Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician who significantly contributed to the first American orbital spaceflight, has passed away at the age of 101.
Before NASA, Johnson worked at its preceding agency NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) in 1953, where she did trajectory analysis for Alan Shepard’s 1961 mission Freedom 7. According to NASA, the 1961 mission was America’s first human spaceflight.
But Johnson is best known for her work that greatly contributed to America’s first orbital spaceflight in 1962. John Glenn, the astronaut who piloted the Friendship 7 that year, asked Johnson to manually check the calculations that had been made by electronic computers. Johnson accurately determined Glenn’s trajectory points, resulting America’s first successful orbit of the Earth.
Johnson, as well as NASA mathematician Dorothy Vaughan and engineer Mary Jackson, were the subjects of 2016’s Hidden Figures. Johnson was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson, while Vaughan and Jackson were portrayed by Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe, respectively.
“NASA will never forget Katherine Johnson’s courage and the milestones we could not have reached without her,” NASA administrator Jim bridenstine said in a statement on Monday morning. ” Her story and her grace continue to inspire the world.”
The @NASA family will never forget Katherine Johnson's courage and the milestones we could not have reached without her. Her story and her grace continue to inspire the world. https://t.co/UPOqo0sLfb pic.twitter.com/xwnRX9oZoi
— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) February 24, 2020