One of the most decorated actresses of this generation, Taraji P. Henson has partnered with Amazon to lunch an artificial intelligence space travel using Alexa, the first of tits kind. The mission titled ‘Artemis I” will not have any human bodies aboard this flight, however Alexa will will be present as the spacecraft orbits the moon. The partnership between Henson and Amazon came following her role in the 2016 film Hidden Figures. Alexa director Kelly Wenzel said, “Our team at Amazon was inspired by Taraji’s role in the movie…we hoped partnering together would inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and astronauts.” On November 21, Amazon personally invited the actress to Mission Control in Houston, Texas. During a virtual crew session, Henson communicated with Alexa on the Orion spacecraft by giving commands to check the gas and oxygen levels.
When asked about her int Henson told ESSENCE, “As a child growing up, it was unspoken that math and science were for boys. I didn’t feel like I belonged. There was no representation. I didn’t see myself or anybody that looked like me. So I didn’t know it was a dream I could acquire.” As mention early, Henson played in the film “Hidden Figures” a movie about a women named Katherine Johnson, played by Henson, the African-American mathematician whose calculations sent astronauts safely to the moon and back. Her role was crucial in America’s first human suborbital spaceflight with Alan Shepard’s Mercury Mission in May 1961, as well as in the trajectory calculation for Apollo 11 in 1969.
Rather than relying on an Amazon Echo device to power Alexa, Lockheed Martin’s AI system has been embedded directly onto the Orion spacecraft. In NASA’s next series of missions to the moon and other space entities, Alexa will be an essential tool for testing how artificial intelligence and voice technology can aid crew members.
A new Amazon Prime Video series, Alexa, take me to the moon, will feature STEM teachers, science enthusiasts, and even Amazon customers will premiere later this month. A behind-the-scenes look at Taraji’s visit and her experience with Alexa is now available on YouTube.