Katherine Johnson, famed NASA mathematician and inspiration for the film 'Hidden Figures,' is dead at 101

By Scottie Andrew, CNN 2020-02-25 11:20

(CNN)Without the precision of "humancomputer" KatherineJohnson, NASA's storied history might've looked a lot different. Hercalculations were responsible for safely rocketing men into space and securingthe American lead in the space race against the Soviet Union.

For almost her entire life, her seminal work inAmerican space travel went unnoticed. Only recently has Johnson's geniusreceived national recognition.

Johnson, a pioneering mathematician who, alongwith a group of other brilliant black women, made US space travel possible,died this week. She was 101.

NASA announcedJohnson's death on Monday.

Johnson was part of NASA's "ComputerPool," a group of mathematicians whose data powered NASA's firstsuccessful space missions. The group's success largely hinged on theaccomplishments of its black women members.

Her work went largely unrecognized until the release of 2016's"Hidden Figures," a film portrayal of Johnson's accomplishments whilethe space agency was still largely segregated.