Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician Behind Inspiration For ‘Hidden Figures’, Dead At 101

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NASA’s “human computer” Katherine Johnson has died.

NASA announced the death of the woman behind the inspiration for the hit movie “Hidden Figures” on Monday. She was 101 years old at the time of her death.

“We’re saddened by the passing of celebrated #HiddenFigures mathematician Katherine Johnson,” NASA shared on its Twitter account. “Today, we celebrate her 101 years of life and honor her legacy of excellence that broke down racial and social barriers.” 

Johnson was a part of NASA’s “Computer Pool” team which contributed to some of the nation’s first successful missions to space. Her work with the team, along with that of other African American women, was not widely recognized until the 2016 release of the film “Hidden Figures.” (RELATED: Ever Want To Go To Space? NASA Will Allow Private Citizens At The International Space Station)

The film portrayed the circumstances Johnson faced as she worked for NASA while the organization was largely segregated. “Hidden Figures” told the story of astronaut John Glenn requesting Johnson’s help during his orbit around the Earth. Glenn had Johnson check the computer’s calculations.

Glenn’s successful mission allowed the United States to move ahead of the Soviet Union in the race to space.