Pioneering African-American Nasa mathematician Katherine Johnson has died at the age of 101.

Nasa announced her death on Twitter, saying it was celebrating her life and honouring “her legacy of excellence that broke down racial and social barriers”.

Ms Johnson calculated rocket trajectories and Earth orbits for Nasa’s early space missions.

She was portrayed in the 2016 Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures.

The film tells the story of African-American women whose maths skills helped put US astronaut John Glenn into orbit around the Earth in 1962. Ms Johnson verified the calculations made by new electronic computers before his flight.

Ms Johnson had previously calculated the trajectory for the space flight of Alan Shepard – the first American in space.

Such was her skill and reputation that Glenn had asked for her specifically and had refused to fly unless she verified the calculations. She also helped to calculate the trajectory for the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the Moon.

Source: BBC


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