Roy Gilbert

FROM ‘HIDDEN’ TO HERO

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Katherine Johnson, the legendary NASA mathematician, dies at 101

A bipartisan bill recognizing Katherine Johnson (above), Christine Darden, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson for their groundbreaking work at NASA was signed into law on Nov. 8, 2019 by President Trump
JONATHON GRUENKE/DAILY PRESS MEDIA GROUP/TNS BY MIKE HOLTZCLAW
DAILY PRESS/TNS

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Katherine Johnson, the NASA Langley Research Center mathematician who went from “hidden” to hero in her late 90s, died on Feb. 24 at the age of 101.

In the early days of the space program, before the advent of modern computers, Johnson’s precise trajectory calculations – done with pencil and paper, or chalk and blackboard – put John Glenn and other astronauts into orbit and brought them safely home.

She was part of a team of “human computers” who inspired Margot Lee Shetterly’s bestselling book “Hidden Figures,” which was subsequently adapted into an Oscar-nominated movie that turned Johnson into an icon of perseverance and dignity. Landmark work

Johnson was always quick to point out that she was part of a team. When people would gush admiration and ask about her accomplishments, she would simply smile and say she was “just doing my job, like anyone else.”“Hidden Figures” celebrated the story a group of African American women who did landmark work at NASA Langley in a time and place when neither Black people nor women were thought to have a place in science and technology fields.Shetterly, a Hampton native, was thrilled that her book cast such a spotlight on […]

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