The Webb Telescope’s Latest Stumbling Block: Its Name

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Sean O’Keefe, the NASA administrator who named the telescope in 2002, stated in an electronic mail that Webb was “a winner of schooling, technological know-how, science, aeronautics and human exploration.”

“Arguably, were being it not for James Webb’s willpower to satisfy the most audacious vision of his time, our potential to investigate right now would be starkly distinct,” Mr. O’Keefe said. “He introduced elaborate methods administration — a willpower to harness the fantastic technical capacity of NASA at that time.” Mr. O’Keefe additional that he was unaware of any proof that Webb was responsible for the Lavender Scare.

In Might, NASA promised a comprehensive investigation by its acting chief historian, Brian Odom. On Sept. 27, the agency issued a assertion from the existing NASA administrator, Invoice Nelson, declaring, “We have uncovered no evidence at this time that warrants transforming the title of the James Webb House Telescope.” Due to the fact then, no comprehensive report has been forthcoming.

This has infuriated lots of astronomers, and some 1,200 have signed a petition calling for the telescope to be renamed. “Under Webb’s management, queer individuals have been persecuted,” the petition reads, in aspect. “Those who would justification Webb’s failure of leadership are unable to concurrently award him credit score for his administration of Apollo.”

On hearing Mr. Nelson’s announcement, Dr. Walkowicz abruptly resigned their write-up on the NASA Astrophysics Advisory Committee. “This flippant, pathetic reaction to the very reasonable concerns raised by the astronomical local community pertaining to JWST’s title sends a distinct information of NASA’s place on the rights of queer astronomers,” they wrote in an on the internet statement. “It also speaks evidently to me that NASA does not should have my time.”

In an e mail, Dr. Prescod-Weinstein said she was disappointed at the deficiency of promised transparency. Moreover, she explained, the claim of “no evidence” was much too sturdy, as it advised that Webb was not liable for the homophobia — properly-documented — that his workforce promulgated all through his tenure at NASA.

“If he’s not responsible for the terrible stuff that transpired while he was in charge, why is he responsible for the excellent stuff?” Dr. Prescod-Weinstein said. “It would seem there’s a bit of double-think occurring here, exactly where people assign him duty for the issues they like about his legacy and pretend that he’s only liable for the items they like.”