Taraji P. Henson is the Brilliant NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson in First Trailer for Hidden Figures

Posted on August 15, 2016

Hidden Figures poster

The first trailer for Hidden Figures has been released and it looks fantastic. The film tells the true story of the brilliant African American female mathematicians who worked at NASA and did all the calculations for the space program. Taraji P. Henson plays the brilliant Dr. Katherine G. Johnson, who was one of a team of women who did the math that launched astronaut John Glenn safely into orbit in 1962.

The film focuses on Dr. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) Known as human computers these three brilliant women were the brains behind John Glenn's mission to go into orbit in 1962. It was the height of the Cold War and all eyes were on the U.S. space program.

The women were hired by NASA and did all the math for the launches before the advent of computers. Dr. Johnson calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard's flights in 1959 and 1961; he was the first American in space. She also plotted backup trajectories and courses in case of equipment failure. She did the calculations for the Mercury missions and for Apollo 11's flight to the Moon in 1969 and for numerous other missions, including the Space Shuttle and plans for a Mars mission.

When digital computers first made their appearance, the scientists were wary of mistakes using the new equipment. Dr. Johnson was asked to double check the computers' math. She became an expert in computerized celestial navigation. In 2015 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama.

The film shows how these women helped launch the space program and how they rose above the prejudices of the time to achieve in math and science fields. Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst and Jim Parsons also star. And it's pretty funny to see a science scene in which Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory is not the smartest person in the room. The trailer is quite inspiring, take a look:

Photo: Fox