Our @NASA family is sad to learn the news that Katherine Johnson passed away this morning at 101 years old. She was an American hero and her pioneering legacy will never be forgotten. https://t.co/UPOqo0sLfb pic.twitter.com/AgtxRnA89h— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) February 24, 2020
As a "human computer," Johnson famously double-checked the numbers for astronaut John Glenn's 1962 orbital mission. Glenn himself asked for Johnson to re-run the computer calculations prior to his launch. This came at a pivotal moment in the space race between the US and the Soviet Union. Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.