Katherine G. Johnson, one of the real-life inspirations behind the critically-acclaimed Hidden Figures and all-around superwoman, has been honored by NASA in the form of a new research building: the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility.
The building, a part of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, was dedicated this past weekend in a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Johnson’s friends and family present. Johnson, also known as “the human computer,” played a key role in some of the agency’s most important missions — including astronaut John Glenn’s orbital mission in 1962.
“You have been a trailblazer,” said Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe at the ceremony. “When I think of Virginia and the history of what we’ve gone through … you’re at the top of that list”
The facility, part of Langley’s 20-year revitalization plan, will feature state-of-the-art technology enabling “innovative research and development supporting NASA’s missions.” According to NASA, the facility will advance big data and analysis capabilities at the center.
“You want my honest answer? I think they’re crazy,” Johnson laughed while answering questions in a pre-taped interview.
After the release of Hidden Figures (which stars Taraji P. Henson as Johnson), 99-year-old Johnson and her co-workers gained rightful recognition for being trailblazers in their field and for women of color around the globe. The film won for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at the Screen Actors Guild Awards earlier this year. The film also earned an Oscar nomination for best picture.
In the interview, Johnson also gave some advice to young NASA engineers who will work at the Johnson also took a moment during her interview to share her advice for the young NASA engineers who will work atthe Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility: “Like what you do and then you will do your best.”
Johnson’s recent notoriety has been credited with inspiring young girls of color to pursue a career in the sciences. You can watch the entire interview above.