James E. Webb was the second director of NASAand performed its functions in the sixties and seventies of the last century. He was responsible, inter alia, for implementing the Apollo program that culminated in the landing of man on the moon and his safe return to Earth.

Now the less glorified aspects of Web activities appear, and are directed at him Accusations of homophobia and harassment of workers of different sexual orientation.

To name a new technology after a famous scientist would probably not surprise anyone, if not for the fact that, apart from the indisputable achievements in the field of space research, web He was also distinguished by an unusual aversion to people of different sexual orientation.

He played the role of NASA Administrator during the so-called tulip fear Compared to a witch hunt, That is, at a time when representatives of sexual minorities could practically not perform any governmental functions in the United States. And they happened to be under surveillance and persecution.

There were also such cases in NASAOne of the strongest evidence of this kind of behavior is his dismissal and subsequent arrest Clifford Norton. As Smithsonian magazine wrote, The NASA Administrator “engaged in systematic discrimination against gays and lesbians during his tenure at the agency.”.

The first protests over naming the new telescope after James Webb erupted several years agoA petition has been submitted to change the name of the new project. NASA He did not respond positively to them. It faded a little, the longer the construction of the telescope was too long – the delay was 14 years compared to the original date.

In September 2021, Space Agency Director Bill Nelson issued an official statement saying that No evidence has been found to guarantee that the James Webb Space Telescope has been renamed.

Now this Telescope worth more than 10 billion dollars It has already been launched into space, and its opening is fast approaching, voices of dissatisfaction are being heard once again, not only from the LGBTQ+ community, but also from other scholars and staff. NASA.

He saw the light of day at the end of March A report containing more than 400 pages of emails addressed to the NASA board of directors, Argument that the name of the telescope should be changed. It was published in the journal Nature. For now, however, NASA does not agree to any concessions on the matter.

“It’s almost funny how inefficient this whole thing is,” says Scott Gaudy, an astronomer at Ohio State University, in an interview with Scientific American. “And how quickly they stop thinking about how important this issue is to the queer astronomy community,” he adds.

On March 30, 2022 NASA There was a private meeting Astrophysics Advisory CommitteeDuring which, officials said, an investigation was underway into “James Webb’s alleged involvement in LGBT persecution.”

“I am looking for additional evidence that may conflict with the current understanding of Webb’s role in this process,” NASA historian Brian Odom emphasized.

Meanwhile, the agency’s director of astrophysics, Paul Hertz, said, “The decision made by NASA is painful to some, and it appears that many of us are wrong.” So far, this statement hasn’t followed up on any specific statements, so it’s hard to predict NASA Will decide to replace the name James Webb Space Telescope, which she has been defending for many years, despite subsequent pressures.

Renaming NASA’s spacecraft isn’t impossible. In the past, such situations happened – NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope Renamed after the first female member of the NASA management team Nancy Grace Roman.

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