Katherine Johnson, famed NASA mathematician and inspiration for the film 'Hidden Figures,' is dead at 101

CNN. com | 2/24/2020, 11:43 a.m.
For almost her entire life, her seminal work in American space travel went unnoticed. Only recently has Johnson's genius received ...
A new facility at the NASA Langley Research Center is named after Katherine G. Johnson

Without the precision of "human computer" Katherine Johnson, NASA's storied history might've looked a lot different. Her calculations were responsible for safely rocketing men into space and securing the American lead in the space race against the Soviet Union.

For almost her entire life, her seminal work in American space travel went unnoticed. Only recently has Johnson's genius received national recognition.

Johnson, a pioneering mathematician who, along with a group of other brilliant black women, made US space travel possible, died this week. She was 101.

NASA announced Johnson's death on Monday.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.'s International President Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson with Katherine Johnson and other members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc./photo credit Instagram

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.'s International President Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson with Katherine Johnson and other members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc./photo credit Instagram

Johnson was part of NASA's "Computer Pool," a group of mathematicians whose data powered NASA's first successful space missions. The group's success largely hinged on the accomplishments of its black women members.

Her work went largely unrecognized until the release of 2017's "Hidden Figures," a film portrayal of Johnson's accomplishments while the space agency was still largely segregated.