HAMPTON, Va. – Over 700 people joined together to celebrate the life and achievements of NASA mathematician and Hampton resident Katherine Johnson. The icon who paved the way for women in STEM across the nation and who hand-calculated the trajectory for the United States’ first trip to space passed away on February 24 at the age of 101. Her funeral was held at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 7. at the Hampton University Convention Center.
Black women like Johnson played a crucial role in NASA’s “Computer Pool” workforce, providing mathematical data for NASA’s first successful space missions, including Alan Shepard’s 1961 mission and John Glenn’s pioneering orbital spaceflight.
Her work was recognized in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures,” where she was played by actress Taraji P. Henson. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of her legacy.
Speakers at the funeral included three astronauts, Congressman Bobby Scott and a spokesperson from NASA Langley.