Trailblazing African-American mathematician Katherine Johnson died Monday at the age of 101. Johnson played a key role at NASA, where her calculations helped put an American in space for the first time in the 1961 Mercury mission, made John Glenn the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962, and landed Neil Armstrong and Apollo 11 on the moon in 1969. In 2015, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama. The hit 2016 film “Hidden Figures” portrayed the widely unrecognized work of Johnson and other black women at NASA during the space race.
Author Margot Lee Shetterly, who wrote the book “Hidden Figures” that the Hollywood film was based on, paid tribute to Johnson on Twitter, writing, “My life’s honor to tell the story of Katherine Johnson’s contributions to NASA, science, our country, and #HamptonRoads VA. Her brilliance helped us to see and celebrate other #hiddenfigures in history. You changed the narrative… Godspeed, Katherine Johnson.”