NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson (C) with producer Caroline Waterlow (L) and director Ezra Edelman (R) of "Hidden Figures." Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, whose calculations helped astronauts reach orbit and eventually land on the Moon, died Monday at 101.

Why it matters: Her work, dramatized in the 2016 film "Hidden Figures," helped to create some of the agency's core mathematical principles behind manned space travel.

  • While she wasn't the first black woman to work as a NASA mathematician, her barrier-breaking story was key in recognizing the achievements that African American scientists contributed to spaceflight during the 1960s.

The big picture: Johnson's work "was overshadowed in the popular imagination by the life-risking astronauts whose flights she calculated, and to a lesser extent by the department heads under whom she served," the Washington Post writes.

  • Former President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.
  • She downplayed the importance of her role in the early years of the space program after the release of "Hidden Figures," telling the Post in 2017 that she was "just doing [her] job."

The bottom line, via the lead sentence of the New York Times' obituary: "They asked Katherine Johnson for the Moon, and she gave it to them."

Go deeper: Why an all-female spacewalk took so long

Go deeper

Trump, McConnell to move fast to replace Ginsburg

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump will move within days to nominate his third Supreme Court justice in just three-plus short years — and shape the court for literally decades to come, top Republican sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are ready to move to confirm Trump's nominee before Election Day, just 46 days away, setting up one of the most consequential periods of our lifetimes, the sources say.

What they're saying: Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a "tireless and resolute champion of justice"

Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaking in February. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Democratic and Republican lawmakers along with other leading figures paid tribute to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday night at age 87.

What they're saying: “Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature," Chief Justice John Roberts said. "We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87, the Supreme Court announced Friday evening.

The big picture: Ginsburg had suffered from serious health issues over the past few years. Her death sets up a fight over filling a Supreme Court seat with less than 50 days until the election.