Pioneering black NASA mathematician dies

Katherine Johnson, who calculated rocket trajectories and earth orbits for NASA's early space missions, dies at age 101.

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February 25, 2020 - 10:21 AM

US President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to NASA mathematician and physicist Katherine Johnson on November 24, 2015. Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images/TNS
Katherine JohnsonCourtesy photo

Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated rocket trajectories and earth orbits for NASA’s early space missions and was later portrayed in the 2016 hit film “Hidden Figures,” about pioneering black female aerospace workers, has died. She was 101.

Johnson died Monday of natural causes at a retirement community in Newport News, Virginia, family attorney Donyale Y. H. Reavis told The Associated Press.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement that Johnson “helped our nation enlarge the frontiers of space even as she made huge strides that also opened doors for women and people of color.”

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