Legendary NASA mathematician and ‘Hidden Figures' inspiration dies at the age of 101 - The Sauce
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Legendary NASA mathematician and ‘Hidden Figures’ inspiration dies at the age of 101

Iconic African-American Nasa mathematician Katherine Johnson has died at the age of 101.

Nasa announced her death on Twitter, saying it was celebrating her life and honouring “her legacy of excellence that broke down racial and social barriers”.
Ms Johnson who had a fascination with numbers from an early age, calculated rocket trajectories and Earth orbits for Nasa’s early space missions.She had previously calculated the trajectory for the space flight of Alan Shepard – the first American in space.She also helped to calculate the trajectory for the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the Moon.
Years later after her monumental work, the former teacher who was born in 1918 was ‘forgotten’ and it is the 2016 book ‘Hidden Figures: The Untold True Story of Four African-American Women who helped launch our Nation into Space’ by Margot Lee Shetterly gave her the recognition she deserved.
The book was adapted into a film in 2016 titled ‘Hidden Figures’ played by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae.The film tells the story of African-American women whose maths skills helped put US astronaut John Glenn into orbit around the Earth in 1962. Ms Johnson verified the calculations made by new electronic computers before his flight.
The film was critically acclaimed and it received alot accolades. The film received a total of 29 awards and 72 nominations including three Academy Awards nominations.
Actress Taraji P. Henson, who played Ms Johnson in Hidden Figures, thanked the mathematician for sharing her “intelligence, poise, grace and beauty with the world. Because of your hard work little girls EVERYWHERE can dream as big as the MOON!!! Your legacy will live on…” she wrote on Twitter.
In 2015, President Barack Obama honored Johnson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her pivotal work in American space travel.
NASA renamed a facility for Johnson in February 2019. A street in front of NASA headquarters in Washington was renamed “Hidden Figures Way” for the three women in July of 2019.

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