This Isn’t the Big Telescope Debut NASA Imagined | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

This Isn’t the Big Telescope Debut NASA Imagined

JWST, an enormous $9.7 billion observatory with 18 mirrors coated in gold, is scheduled to launch into space this December. It’s the scientific successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which completely altered our view of the universe. Scientists around the world are ready to see JWST go; the telescope has been over budget and behind schedule for years. But rather than focusing on that long-awaited triumph, they’re caught up in a controversy over the 20-year-old naming decision.

More than 1,200 people, including professional scientists who have applied for observing time on JWST, have signed an online petition asking NASA to rename the telescope. Webb, critics say, is the wrong namesake for an instrument meant to inspire future generations of scientific thinkers. They point to archival, publicly accessible documents that show that, during his pre-NASA tenure at the State Department in the early ’50s, Webb attended a meeting about policies that discriminated against LGBTQ government employees. Other documents show that NASA, under Webb’s watch, engaged in discriminatory firing.

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