Mathematician Katherine Johnson — one of the first African American women to work as a NASA scientist who manually calculated the trajectory of spaceflights during the 1960s space race with Russia — has died. She was 101. According to The New York Post, Johnson — a NASA employee for 35 years, was featured in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures.” She was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson.
Johnson, who retired in 1986 from NASA, wrote or co-wrote 26 research projects. She recalled her greatest contribution to space exploration was the calculations that helped with Project Apollo’s Lunar Lander — the moon-orbiting Command Service Module.
She was born on August 26th, 1918, in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Before her NASA days, she was one of three black students handpicked to integrate West Virginia’s graduate school. Johnson graduated from West Virginia State College in 1937 and earned degrees in mathematics and French.