Katherine Johnson, ‘Hidden Figures’ NASA mathematician, dies

Katherine Johnson, former NASA physicist, dead at 101

Katherine Johnson, the mathematician who was depicted in the film “Hidden Figures,” has died, NASA officials announced Monday.

Johnson was 101.

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She was one of the first black female aerospace workers, The Associated Press reported.

FILE PHOTO: NASA space scientist, and mathematician Katherine Johnson poses for a portrait at work at NASA Langley Research Center in 1966 in Hampton, Virginia.
FILE PHOTO: NASA space scientist, and mathematician Katherine Johnson poses for a portrait at work at NASA Langley Research Center in 1966 in Hampton, Virginia. (Donaldson Collection/Getty Images)

Johnson calculated the rocket trajectories and earth orbits by hand as the space program was in its infancy. Before 1958, she and the other black women worked for the racially segregated computing unit. It is now known as Langly Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, the AP reported.

She worked on the first mission to put an American into space, analyzing the trajectory of Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 Mission and her verification of computer calculations helped John Glenn orbit the Earth safely in 1962, according to the AP.

Johnson was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 24: U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former NASA mathematician Katherine G. Johnson during an East Room ceremony November 24, 2015 at the White House in Washington, DC. Seventeen recipients were awarded with the nationÕs highest civilian honor. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 24: U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former NASA mathematician Katherine G. Johnson during an East Room ceremony November 24, 2015 at the White House in Washington, DC. Seventeen recipients were awarded with the nationÕs highest civilian honor. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The actress who portrayed Johnson in “Hidden Figures," Taraji P. Henson, posted on Instagram remembering the woman she had the honor of playing, saying, “Your legacy will live on FOREVER AND EVER!!! You ran so we could fly!!! I will forever be honored to have been a part of bringing your story to life. You/your story was hidden and thank GOD you are #hiddennomore."