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‘Hidden Figures’ scientist Katherine Johnson gets the NASA facility named in her honor

NASA renamed the Independent Verification and Validation Facility in West Virginia in honor of Katherine Johnson.
(Getty Images)

Katherine Johnson, the former NASA mathematician that the journey was exhibited in 2016, the film “Hidden Figures,” received a huge gift from the agency that employed her years ago.

The Independent Verification and Validation Facility (IV&V) in Fairmont, West Virginia, was renamed in honor of Johnson — an African-American woman who led a career with the agency in a time when race tensions were high, and when an important role in the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, forerunner of NASA, were filled mainly by men.

“I am pleased that we are in honor of Katherine Johnson in this way they want to is a true American icon, who overcame incredible obstacles and inspired so much,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a press release on Friday. “It is a fitting tribute to the name of the facility, which carries on its heritage of mission-critical calculations in her honor.”

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Johnson, who is 100 years old in August, was played by actor Taraji P. Henson in the “Hidden Numbers” — a critically acclaimed film that followed on her journey as a human “computer” in the 1950s and ’60s, alongside fellow African-American women, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson.

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According to NASA’s Johnson “calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 mission in 1961.” Shepard was the first American to enter space.

“The following year, Johnson performed the work for which they would be best known when she was asked to check the results by electronic computers for calculating the orbit for John Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission,” the agency said. Johnson “went on the calculations for the NASA throughout her career, including the for the different Apollo missions.”

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Last year, Congress passed a bill allowing the change of the name of the facility, which President Trump signed into law on Dec. 11.

Johnson has been awarded with the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2015 by the former President Obama.

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The IV&V Facility is home to the IV&V program, that helps NASA’s “highest-profile missions to ensure that the software on these missions properly.”

“It is an honor to the NASA IV&V Program’s primary facility now carries Katherine Johnson’ s name,” Gregory Blaney, the program’s director, said. “It is a way for us to recognize Katherine’s career and contributions not only during Black History Month, but every day, every year.”

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