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Girls & Women

NASA’s Newest Building Is Named After ‘Hidden Figures’ Hero Katherine Johnson


NASA is finally giving one of its most important living legends her due.

NASA’s new state-of-the-art research facility has been named for Katherine Johnson, the engineer who helped break racial and gender barriers inside NASA in the 1960s and whose story was immortalized in “Hidden Figures” last year.

Johnson, who is 99 years old, was on hand at the ribbon-cutting for the new NASA Research Center to see the new sign welcoming people to the building under her name. When asked what she thought about the decision, she had a colorful answer.

“You want my honest answer? I think they’re crazy,” she said, according to The Root.

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But NASA isn’t so crazy to have named the center after the iconic scientist; “Hidden Figures” was a global box office success that showed how audiences everywhere are hungry for oft-overlooked stories about women of color who have made enormous contributions to the world — especially to the sciences.

Johnson helped launch astronaut John Glenn into space. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 for her work at NASA.

“We’re here to honor the legacy of one of the most admired and inspirational people ever associated with NASA,” David Bowles, director of the center, said in a press release. “I can’t imagine a better tribute to Mrs. Johnson’s character and accomplishments than this building that will bear her name.”

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The ribbon-cutting ceremony was even attended by the group Black Girls Code.

The NASA center is a $23-million, 37,000 facility in Hampton, Virginia.

Hopefully it becomes a place as influential as Johnson herself.