NASA pioneer Katherine Johnson passes away at 101

27 Février, 2020, 01:39 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Katherine Johnson, mathematician and real-life subject of 'Hidden Figures,' dies at 101

Reuters reports that Katherine Johnson worked with NASA for 33 years on programmes including the Mercury and Apollo missions - including the first Moon landing in 1969 - and the early years of the space shuttle.

"NASA is deeply saddened by the loss of a leader from our pioneering days, and we send our deepest condolences to the family of Katherine Johnson". She more than anyone would have been aware of the others in similar positions who, while they may not have been quite as instrumental or prominent in the moment - John Glenn famously asked before a flight that a mechanical computer's calculations be checked by "the girl", meaning Johnson - were nonetheless indispensable and quite as hidden.

Recognition may have come later than it should have and it shouldn't have depended on a book and movie to get there, but Katherine Johnson and the trailblazing black women of NASA's early years are hidden no more.

However, her groundbreaking contributions were recognised in 2015 when she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor bestowed on civilians, from President Barack Obama. Darden, who sat down with WAVY's Laura in 2018, is 77 and still lives in Hampton Roads.

Following an executive order prohibiting racial discrimination in the defense industry, Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics' main research center, began recruiting black people with college degrees in the 1940s for the computer pool. In 2016, her story, along with the stories of two other African American women at NASA in the 1960s, was commemorated in the film "Hidden Figures".

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Hidden Figures also told the stories of fellow pioneers Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, and the key role they played in the Space Race.

On Feb. 24, 2020, the agency to which Johnson dedicated her life reflected on the legacy she leaves behind.

In 1962, when NASA prepared for John Glenn's orbital mission, that was when Johnson was called upon to do the work that would solidify herself in American scientific history. It was shown in limited release on December 25, 2016, by 20th Century Fox, before going nationwide in the United States on January 6, 2017, according to Box Office Mojo. She was the first female African-American engineer at the agency. Black women couldn't go to school past the eighth grade; however, Johnson finished high school by traveling 130 miles for better education.

NASA announced Johnson's passing on its Twitter account.

"We can not thank Katherine enough for her contributions to our state and our nation", he said in a statement. You ran so we could fly! When West Virginia chose to integrate its graduate schools in 1939, West Virginia State's president, Dr. John W. Davis, selected her and two men to be the first black students offered spots at the state's flagship school, West Virginia University.


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