NASA’s new research facility named after Katherine Johnson, the 99-year-old mathematician whose story came to life in Hidden Figures, is officially open. Johnson, attended the dedication ceremony at the $23 million Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility in Hampton, Virginia.
“I always like something new,” Johnson said of the 37,000-square-foot facility. “It gives credit to everybody who helped.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was also attended by Johnson’s friends and family, students from Black Girls Code, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, and “special guests” from across the state including Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Johnson, a.k.a “the human computer”, was born in West Virginia in 1918, and was among a group of Black women hired by NASA to configure trajectory calculations in preparation for NASA’s first spaceflights. The state of the art research center bearing her name, is run by the Langely Research Center, where Johnson worked from 1953 until her retirement in 1986.
“We’re here to honor the legacy of one of the most admired and inspirational people ever associated with NASA,” said Langley Director David Bowles. “I can’t imagine a better tribute to Mrs. Johnson’s character and accomplishments than this building that will bear her name.”
The research center of is one of several accolades bestowed upon Johnson, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2015.