NASA renames building after Katherine Johnson, Hidden Figures space star

NASA honors the mathematician who worked in space exploration for over 30 years.

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Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
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Human computer Katherine Johnson's work in helping to pioneer advances in space travel spans over 30 years.


NASA's Independent Verification and Validation Facility in Fairmont, West Virginia, has a new name. It's now the Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility, in honor of the "hidden figure" portrayed by actress Taraji P. Henson in the movie Hidden Figures.

The 2016 film celebrated influential women of color who helped to pioneer space travel at NASA during the '60s.

Katherine Johnson was a brilliant mathematician who worked as a "computer" -- not a machine as we know computers today, but a person who computes. 

One of her greatest contributions to space exploration included making essential calculations that helped synch Project Apollo's Lunar Lander with the moon-orbiting Command and Service Module. 

She also worked on the Space Shuttle and the Earth Resources Satellite.


Here's a look at NASA's Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility in Fairmont, West Virginia.


NASA IV&V assures the safety and success of software on NASA's highest-profile missions.

"It's an honor the NASA IV&V Program's primary facility now carries Katherine Johnson's name," NASA IV&V Program Director Gregory Blaney said in a statement. "It's a way for us to recognize Katherine's career and contributions not just during Black History Month, but every day, every year." 

After working at NASA and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics for over three decades, Johnson retired in 1986. 

In 2015, when Johnson was 97, President Obama awarded her America's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

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