Katherine Johnson Net Worth at Death – Salary, Income, Husband

Katherine Johnson Net Worth

Katherine Johnson had an estimated net worth of $3 million at death. One of NASA’s human ‘computers,’ Katherine Johnson performed the complex calculations that enabled humans to successfully achieve space flight. Her story is depicted in the 2016 movie ‘Hidden Figures.’ She earned most of her income from her work as an aerospace technologist.

Katherine Johnson took advantage of African Americans’ limited educational opportunities, graduating from college at the age of 18. She started as a “computer” in aeronautics in 1952, and after NASA was formed, she performed the calculations that sent astronauts into orbit in the early 1960s and to the moon in 1969.

Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015, and her story was told in a book and a feature film the following year. On February 24, 2020, she died at the age of 101.

To calculate the net worth of Katherine Johnson, subtract all her liabilities from her total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity she has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets.

All debts, such as personal loans and mortgages, are included in total liabilities. 

Here’s the breakdown of her net worth:

Name: Katherine Johnson
Net Worth: $3 Million
Monthly Salary: $30 Thousand
Annual Income: $500 Thousand
Source of Wealth: Aerospace technologist

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Early Years and Education

Katherine Coleman Johnson was born on August 26, 1918, in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. She breezed through her classes and finished eighth grade by the age of ten, a bright child with a gift for numbers.

Although her town no longer offered classes for African Americans, her father, Joshua, drove the family 120 miles to Institute, West Virginia, where she attended high school.

Johnson enrolled at West Virginia State College (now West Virginia State University) in Institute, West Virginia, and was met by a hands-on faculty. Dr. William W. Schieffelin Claytor, the third African American to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics, was determined to prepare Johnson for a career as a research mathematician. She graduated summa cum laude at the age of 18 with degrees in mathematics and French.

Johnson was one of three students who helped to desegregate West Virginia University’s graduate school in Morgantown the following year. She found the environment to be less welcoming than it had been at Institute, and she never finished her program there.

The ‘Computer’

Beginning in the late 1930s, Johnson taught mathematics and French in schools in Virginia and West Virginia.

In 1952, Johnson learned that the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) was hiring African American women as “computers,” people who performed and reviewed calculations for technological developments. Johnson applied, and the following year she was accepted for a position at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

Johnson proved not only adept at her calculations, but also displayed a curiosity and assertiveness that surprised her superiors. “The women did what they were told,” she recalls. “They didn’t ask questions or follow up on the task. I asked questions; I wanted to know why.”

After just two weeks, Johnson was transferred from the African-American computer pool to Langley’s flight research department, where she asserted herself in meetings and received additional assignments. She was successful, though she’d difficulties at home: in 1956, her husband died of a brain tumor.

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NASA Pioneer

Johnson was among those tasked with determining how to get a human into space and back in 1958, after NACA was renamed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The following year, she remarried to James A. Johnson, a decorated Navy and Army officer.

Calculating space flight, according to Johnson, came down to basic geometry: “The early trajectory was a parabola, and it was easy to predict where it would be at any point.” “When they first stated that they wanted the capsule to fall at a specific location, they were attempting to calculate when it should begin. ‘Let me do it,’ I said. You tell me when and where you want it to land, and I’ll reverse it and tell you when to take off.'” As a result, she was tasked with plotting the path for Alan Shepard’s 1961 journey to space, the first in American history.

The next task was to place a man in orbit around the Earth. This required far more difficult calculations to account for celestial bodies’ gravitational pulls, and by then NASA had begun using electronic computers.

However, the job wasn’t considered finished until Johnson was called in to inspect the machines, giving the green light to launch John Glenn into orbit in 1962.

While the work of electronic computers became more important at NASA, Johnson remained extremely valuable due to her unwavering accuracy.

She calculated for the historic 1969 Apollo 11 moon mission, and when Apollo 13 experienced a malfunction in space the following year, her contributions to contingency procedures helped ensure its safe return.

‘Hidden Figures’

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race, written by Margot Lee Shetterly in 2016, celebrated the little-known story of Johnson and her fellow African American computers. Hidden Figures (2016), starring Taraji P. Henson as Johnson, was also adapted into an Oscar-nominated feature film.

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Awards and Legacy

Johnson received numerous awards for her groundbreaking work. Among them are the NASA Lunar Orbiter Spacecraft and Operations team award in 1967 and the National Technical Association’s 1997 Mathematician of the Year award. She also received honorary degrees from SUNY Farmingdale, Capitol College in Maryland, Old Dominion University in Virginia, and West Virginia University.

President Barack Obama awarded Johnson the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2015.

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race, written by Margot Lee Shetterly in 2016, celebrated the little-known story of Johnson and her fellow African American computers. Hidden Figures (2016), starring Taraji P. Henson as Johnson, was also adapted into an Oscar-nominated feature film.

A year later, in September 2017, NASA honored Johnson, 99, by dedicating a new research building named after her, the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility. Johnson, her family, and friends attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Langley Research Center building in Hampton, Virginia.

“We’re here to honor the legacy of one of NASA’s most admired and inspiring people,” Langley Director David Bowles said in a press release. “I can’t think of a better tribute to Mrs. Johnson’s character and achievements than this building bearing her name.”

Johnson’s humble response to having a building named after her was humorous: “You want my honest answer? “I think they’re insane.”

Her pioneering contributions were recognized at the dedication ceremony, where keynote speaker Margot Lee Shetterly said of the “human computers,” “We are living in a present that they willed into existence with their pencils, slide rules, mechanical calculating machines — and, of course, their brilliant minds.”

“Your work changed our history, and our history changed our future,” she told Johnson.

When asked for advice to NASA employees who will work in the new building named after her, Johnson simply stated, “Like what you do, and you will do your best.”

Husband and Children

In 1939, Johnson married James Francis Goble, with whom she had three daughters: Joylette, Katherine and Constance.

Further Reading

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