Katherine Johnson Birthday & Fun Facts

Height, Age, Net Worth, Biography & More

Anupama Ghosh
Feb 08, 2024 By Anupama Ghosh
Originally Published on Feb 15, 2023
Edited by Anupama Ghosh
Find the exciting facts about the American mathematician and physician Katherine Johnson below
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Age: 1-99
Read time: 6.6 Min

About Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson was an American mathematician who contributed significantly to aeronautics and space programs.

On August 26, 1918, Creola Katherine Coleman was born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. She pioneered using digital electronic computers at The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Katherine Johnson attended West Virginia State University. Noticing her giftedness, the school included an analytical geometry course for her. She graduated with the highest honors in mathematics. After graduation, she worked in the West Computers unit for NACA, the predecessor of NASA.

Katherine Johnson delivered mathematical derivations needed for the space program. Her calculations have allowed astronauts to land on the Moon. She worked with NASA for more than 30 years. At NASA, her pioneer calculations aided in establishing the organization's integrity. She was a part of the Mercury program, where she figured out the path of Freedom 7 and calculated the lift-off of Apollo 11. Due to her outstanding work, Katherine Johnson received various prestigious honors, such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the NASA Lunar Orbiter Spacecraft and Operations Team Award for assisting the Apollo program. Her career defied gender and racial stereotypes and helped the US gain significant milestones in space exploration. She retired from NASA in 1986. The book 'Hidden Figures' was influenced by her life, and was later adapted into a film. She had three daughters with James Francis Globe. Following her husband's demise, she married war veteran, James A. Johnson. 

Katherine Johnson's Net Worth, Earnings & Spending Habits

What was Katherine Johnson's net worth?

Katherin Johnson's net worth is unknown. But Johnson's net worth is estimated to be around $1-5 million, which she amassed from her career as a renowned mathematician.

How much did Katherine Johnson earn per year?

Katherine Johnson's annual earnings are unknown.

Height, Age & Physical Attributes

How tall was Katherine Johnson?

Katherine Johnson's height is unknown.

How old was Katherine Johnson?

On February 24, 2020, Katherine Johnson passed away in Newport News, Virginia. She was 101 years old at the time of her death. 

Childhood And Education

Katherine Coleman, she was born to Creole parents, Joshua, a handyman, and Joylette Coleman, a teacher. She was the youngest among the four siblings, whose names are unknown.

From a young age, it became evident that Katherine Johnson was a mathematical genius. She enrolled at a high school on the West Virginia State College campus when she was only 10 years old. At the age of 14, Katherine Johnson graduated from WVSC, a historically black college.

Later, Katherine Johnson enrolled at West Virginia State University to study math. She was among the only three African-American students at West Virginia State University during that time. Due to her passion, she was mentored by prominent professors, such as Angie King and Schiefflin Claytor. Her brilliance made the school create a course in analytic geometry for her.

In 1937, Katherine Johnson graduated with the highest honors in Mathematics and French. She then became a teacher at a public school in Marion, Virginia. In 1939, Katherine Coleman quit her job after tying the knot with James Francis Goble.

Family, Romance, And Relationships

Who was Katherine Johnson's partner?

Katherine Johnson married twice. In 1939, Johnson tied the knot with James Francis Goble. They had three daughters named Joylette, Constance, and Katherine Goble. But, James Francis Goble passed away because of a tumor. In 1959, she married Lt. James A. Johnson, and the couple resided in Hampton, Virginia.

Career And Professional Highlights

Best Known For…

Katherine Johnson is best known for being the pioneer in the usage of digital electronic computers at NASA.

Katherine Johnson's love for numbers made her pursue a career in research mathematics. But, it was difficult for her due to her race, as the field was dominated by a white, male population.

In 1952, one of Katherine Johnson's relatives told her about job openings at NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics). At that time, the organization was hiring mathematicians, regardless of race and gender, for their Guidance and Navigation Department. She applied and got accepted in 1953.

Katherine Johson started working for the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory's West Area Computers department. She worked there from 1953-1958. Then, she got transferred to the Guidance and Control Division, a place filled with mostly male engineers. At that time, racist laws filled the workplace. The federal work environment segregation rules place African-American women in different settings from their colleagues. They worked in units marked as 'Colored Computers'.

When NASA took over in 1958, NACA discontinued the colored units. Then Johnson was transferred to the Spacecraft Controls Branch. There she served as an aerospace technologist from 1958-1986.

Katherine Johnson made many notable contributions during her career. On May 5, 1961, she calculated the mathematical estimation for Alan Shepard's space flight. Johnson was also a part of takeoff estimations of NASA's Mercury program.

Katherine Johnson was the key in planning the navigator graphs for astronauts if electric designs failed. When NASA upgraded with the latest technology, John Glenn requested Johnson to figure out his orbit. The astronaut also said he wouldn't board the space flight until Johnson affirmed the calculation.

When digital computers took over, Katherine Johnson began working with them and then grasped the new technology in a short period. She calculated the famous Apollo 11 flight's orbit that reached the Moon in 1969.

In 1970, Katherine Johnson was a part of the Apollo 13 moon mission. When the officials aborted the mission, her calculations focusing on backup techniques and navigation graphs assured the safe return of the crews.

Katherine Johnson was a part of the Earth Resources Satellite, Space Shuttle Program, and the Mars mission. In 1986, she retired from NASA.

What awards did Katherine Johnson win?

Katherine Johnson received numerous awards, recognitions, and accolades during her career. One of her most significant awards was the ASA Lunar Orbiter Spacecraft and Operations Team Award for her contributions to the famous Apollo mission.

Johnson received the NASA Langley Research Center Special Achievement award five times.

In 1998, she received the Honorary Doctor of Laws from SUNY Farmingdale. The following year, WVSC named her the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year.

In 2006, Capitol College named her Honorary Doctor of Science. In 2010, she got the Honorary Doctorate of Science from Old Dominion University.

In 2014, Johnson received the De Pizan Honor from the National Women's History Museum. The following year she got NCWIT Pioneer in Tech Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In 2016, Katherine Johnson got the Silver Snoopy award from Leland Melvin and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's Arthur B.C. Walker II Award. She also received the Langley West Computing Unit NASA Group Achievement Award.

In 2017, Katherine Johnson got the Daughters of the American Revolution(DAR) Medal of Honor and the Honorary Doctorate from Spelman College. 

In 2019, the University of Johannesburg and its Faculty of Science granted Katherine Johnson a doctorate for her pioneering part at NASA. She also received the Congressional Gold Medal that year.

In 2021, Katherine Johnson got inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Other Interesting Katherine Johnson Facts And Trivia

  • At one point, Katherine Johnson was intended to be included in a LEGO collection that praised successful women of NASA. But LEGO couldn't get the rights to use her picture and had to stop the plan. 
  • Katherine Johnson was often called a child prodigy. She admitted that she counted the steps she had taken and the dishes she washed because she couldn't control herself from seeing mathematics in every aspect. 
  • Katherine Johnson served as Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority's member.
  • After she passed away, Jim Bridenstine, administrator of NASA, defined her as "an American hero" and commented that her contributions would not be forgotten. 
  • When Katherine Johnson applied to NASA for the first time, she got rejected.
  • She was one of the critical members of NASA to send the first human to the Moon. 
  • Aside from being a brilliant mathematician and space scientist, she was also a writer. She authored a book on space travel.

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Katherine Johnson Birthday & Fun Facts Facts

Birth Name

Creola Katherine Coleman

Date of Birth

1918-08-26

Date of Death

2020-02-24

Nationality

American

Place of Birth

White Sulphur Springs

Child Star?

No

Education

West Virginia State University

Net Worth

5000000

Partner

John A Johnson

Parents

Joylette, Joshua Coleman
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Written by Anupama Ghosh

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Archaeology and Ancient History, Master of Arts specializing in Archaeology and Ancient History

Anupama Ghosh picture

Anupama GhoshBachelor of Arts specializing in Archaeology and Ancient History, Master of Arts specializing in Archaeology and Ancient History

She holds a Bachelor's degree in Archaeology and Ancient History and a Master's degree in the same field from the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. Anupama is a content coordinator with a diverse professional background in sales, academic research, content writing, advertising, and market research. She has strong communication, problem-solving, and analytical skills that she has honed through her various roles. She worked as a research associate, customer care executive, and data intel associate before joining Kidadl. In her free time, Anupama enjoys reading books, watching Marvel movies, and listening to Jagjit Singh's songs.

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