Katherine Johnson, pioneering NASA mathematician portrayed in "Hidden Figures," RIP

The great Katherine Johnson, one of the legendary African-American mathematicians who were essential to the Apollo 11 moon landing, has died at age 101. You'll recall that Johnson, who worked at NASA's Flight Research Division for more than three decades, was the central character in the film Hidden Figures. From the New York Times:

Mrs. Johnson was one of several hundred rigorously educated, supremely capable yet largely unheralded women who, well before the modern feminist movement, worked as NASA mathematicians.

But it was not only her sex that kept her long marginalized and long unsung: Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson, a West Virginia native who began her scientific career in the age of Jim Crow, was also African-American.

In old age, Mrs. Johnson became the most celebrated of the small cadre of black women — perhaps three dozen — who at midcentury served as mathematicians for the space agency and its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, proclaiming, "Katherine G. Johnson refused to be limited by society's expectations of her gender and race while expanding the boundaries of humanity's reach."

In 2017, NASA dedicated a building in her honor, the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility, at its Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

More: Katherine Johnson (NASA)