Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician And An Inspiration For 'Hidden Figures,' Dies

Before John Glenn flew Friendship 7 in 1962, becoming the first American to orbit Earth, he asked Johnson to double-check the math of the “new electronic” computations. "But when he got ready to go, he said, ‘Call her. And if she says the computer is right, I’ll take it,’ " she recalled.

Margot Lee Shetterly wrote the book Hidden Figures and said that Glenn considered Johnson’s calculations part of his preflight checklist. “So the astronaut who became a hero looked to this black woman in the still-segregated South at the time as one of the key parts of making sure his mission would be a success,” she told NPR in 2016.

Johnson did calculations for the first moon landing, and later for the space shuttle program. President Barack Obama awarded her the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, at a 2015 White House ceremony. “In her 33 years at NASA, Katherine was a pioneer who broke the barriers of race and gender, showing generations of young people that everyone can excel in math and science, and reach for the stars,” Obama said.


I finally saw the movie last week!

Actually the first time I heard about Kate Johnson was many years ago when she won the president’s award. Didn’t know about the movie until the fuss about the oscar awards started.

After seeing the movie I found and read the book.
I enjoyed both the movie and the book.

I’ve been a space buff all my life. Have absorbed a lot of information about the '60’s space program. Not just Apollo but Gemini and Mercury, too. Books, documentaries, the “mission files series” etc.

There were a number of “oversimplifications” in the movie that were annoying - none of which had a bearing on the main character’s plot. Just moments where I recognized certain people but realized that “you didn’t do that” and “you weren’t there at that time” and “where is so-and-so?”, which takes me away from what the scene is about. I think the movie collapsed a lot of events into single moments. Probably not important given that’s not what the movie was really about.

Back in the early days of satellite TV when almost nothing was scrambled NASA would have cameras spotted about the launch site, all feeding live satellite channels. We could dial into any of the feeds. Some were of empty rooms but there was always some action on some of the channels.
I watched a couple of launches on the NASA feeds.