Watch Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae in the "Hidden Figures" trailer

Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer star in "Hidden Figures."

20th Century Fox

A lesser-known chapter in the space race gets due with the upcoming "Hidden Figures," starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae.

The film tells the true story of the African-American women who worked for NASA in the 1960s, using their math skills to serve as human computers because machines weren't yet up to the task.

The women, led by mathematics prodigy Katherine Johnson (Henson) help put John Glenn (Glen Powell) into orbit -- despite clear prejudices against women and people of color both in society in general and within NASA.

"I need a mathematician who can look beyond the numbers," Kevin Costner's space program chief says in the trailer. "Math that doesn't yet exist."

The cast also includes "Big Bang Theory" star Jim Parsons, Kirsten Dunst and Mahershala Ali.

"Hidden Figures" is set for general release January 13, 2017 but will have Oscar-qualifying runs in New York and Los Angeles starting Christmas Day, director Theodore Melfi announced.