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Hundreds attend service for NASA pioneer Katherine Johnson

Posted at 12:36 AM, Mar 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-08 00:42:10-05

HAMPTON, Va. -- Three black astronauts have joined hundreds of other mourners at a memorial service for pioneering African American mathematician and NASA researcher Katherine Johnson.

More than 700 people turned out for Saturday's memorial service at the Hampton University Convocation Center.

Johnson hand calculated rocket trajectories and Earth orbits for NASA’s early space missions. She was later portrayed in the 2016 film "Hidden Figures," about pioneering black female aerospace workers.

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.

Johnson, who died Feb. 24 at the age of 101, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of her legacy.

Johnson was remembered not just as a pioneering researcher, but as a faithful church leader and family matriarch.