New NASA Research Space Honors ‘Hidden Figures’ Trailblazer Katherine Johnson
Christopher Polk

NASA has named its new $23 million research data center after Katherine Johnson, the pioneering NASA engineer whose life and achievements were profiled in the book and movie “Hidden Figures”.

Johnson was a pioneering black female NASA engineer, the so-called “human computer”, that was key in helping calculate NASA’s space missions. Her contributions broke the glass ceiling for black women in NASA’s space program, an accomplishment that was recognized in 2015 when she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“You want my honest answer? I think they’re crazy,” she said in a pre-taped interview of her reaction when she first heard that NASA’s new facility would be named The Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility. 

“I was excited at something new, always liked something new,” she said. “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.”

Margot Lee Shetterly, the author of “Hidden Figures” was the keynote speaker this weekend at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Hampton, Va-based facility : “Telling your story has been an honor,” she said of the the now-99-year-old trailblazer. “Your work changed our history and your history has changed our future.”

Congratulations to Johnson!