Katherine Johnson Dies at 101: NASA Pays Tribute to Legendary Mathematician

Mathematician Katherine Johnson has passed away at the age of 101. Read NASA's statement on her passing, here.

By Jess Cohen Feb 24, 2020 3:54 PMTags
Katherine JohnsonNASA/Donaldson Collection/Getty Images

Mathematician Katherine Johnson has passed away at the age of 101.

NASA has shared the heartbreaking news that Johnson, who was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson in the film Hidden Figures, died on Monday morning, Feb. 24. In a tribute to Johnson, NASA is reflecting on her many achievements and her incredible legacy.

"NASA is deeply saddened by the loss of a leader from our pioneering days, and we send our deepest condolences to the family of Katherine Johnson," the statement from administrator Jim Bridenstine reads. "Ms. 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 in the universal human quest to explore space."

"Her dedication and skill as a mathematician helped put humans on the moon and before that made it possible for our astronauts to take the first steps in space that we now follow on a journey to Mars," the statement continues.

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Back in 2015, President Barack Obama awarded Johnson, then 97, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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"At NASA we will never forget her courage and leadership and the milestones we could not have reached without her," NASA's statement notes. "We will continue building on her legacy and work tirelessly to increase opportunities for everyone who has something to contribute toward the ongoing work of raising the bar of human potential."

Hidden Figures actress Octavia Spencer also took to social media to pay tribute to Johnson.

"So sad to hear that we've lost #KatherineJohnson a pioneer who contributed so much to humanity! It was an honor to be apart of telling her story and feeling the impact that her legacy has had on future women in STEM," Spencer wrote on Instagram. "My thoughts and prayers are with her family."