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  • Former Mathematician Katherine Johnson was hired by NASA in 1953.

    Former Mathematician Katherine Johnson was hired by NASA in 1953. | Photo: NASA

The 37,000-square-foot Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility was opened on Friday.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recognized 99-year-old African-American mathematician Katherine Johnson – who inspired the film Hidden Figures – with a center named in her honor.

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The 37,000-square-foot Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility was opened on Friday. The $23-million energy-efficient building is located at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

According to a press release from NASA, the facility is a “state-of-the-art lab for innovative research and development supporting NASA’s exploration missions.”

Johnson, when asked about the honor said: “You want my honest answer? I think they’re crazy. I was excited at something new, always liked something new, but give credit to everybody who helped. I didn’t do anything alone but try to go to the root of the question and succeeded there.”

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck, and "Hidden Figures" author Margot Lee Shetterly were on hand to help honor Johnson.

Johnson was hired in 1953 as a part of an all-black, all-woman team of “human computers” at NASA.

She held a degree in Mathematics and French from West Virginia State College, prior to being hired to National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) – now NASA.

As depicted in the film, her contributions to NASA’s early space missions were integral to its success.

Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.


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