NASA opens research center in honor of ‘Hidden Figures’ inspiration

A hero finally had her place in history cemented — literally.

According to Refinery29, NASA honored Katherine Johnson, a “mathematician whose contributions to NASA’s early space missions were instrumental to its success” and the inspiration behind 2016’s Hidden Figures film, by placing her name on their research center. Called the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility, Entertainment Weekly says the new building is part of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, and was officially opened in a ceremony this past weekend.

In a pre-taped video, Refinery29 says Johnson shared how she felt about having a building named in her honor.

“You want my honest answer? I think they’re crazy,”  she said. “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.”

Known as “the human computer” and a mathematician vital to launching John Glenn into space in 1962, Entertainment Weekly reports that Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe offered that while Johnson is not alone in her achievements, she is certainly a pioneer.

“You have been a trailblazer,” he said at the ceremony. “When I think of Virginia and the history of what we’ve gone through … you’re at the top of that list.”

Johnson’s work and those of her counterparts Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson were further immortalized in the film Hidden Figuresin which Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe portrayed the all-black, all-female mathematicians who shaped the trajectory of NASA’s space program.

 

 

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