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Funeral held for local hero, NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson

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Posted at 7:16 AM, Mar 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-07 17:49:26-05

HAMPTON, Va. - NASA mathematician and Hampton resident Katherine Johnson's funeral was held Saturday.

Johnson, who hand-calculated the trajectory for the United States' first trip to space, died at 101 years old at the end of February.

Black women like Johnson played a crucial role in NASA's "Computer Pool" workforce, providing mathematical data for NASA’s first successful space missions, including Alan Shepard’s 1961 mission and John Glenn’s pioneering orbital spaceflight.

Her work was recognized in the 2016 film "Hidden Figures," where she was played by actress Taraji P. Henson. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of her legacy.

Johnson's "Celebration of Life" service was held at Hampton University's Convocation Center at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 7. Speakers at the funeral included three astronauts, Congressman Bobby Scott and a spokesperson from NASA Langley.