NASA's newest telescope is drenched in controversy. Designed as the “New Hubble”, the James Webb telescope will be bigger and better than its predecessor. However, there's one big issue: it's named after a massive homophobe.
Former NASA administrator James Webb is infamous for his anti-LGBT movement. Webb, now long-dead, was NASA's leader of an “antigay witch hunt” known as the Lavender Scare. The NASA admin's actions resulted in a purge of LGBT employees and internal interrogations to determine if employees were gay.
Astronauts and NASA employees hate the name
After the James Webb telescope was unveiled, it was immediately hit with criticism. Everyone from LGBTQ+ activists to NASA employees saw issue with the new telescope honouring a controversial and hated figure. Professional astronauts have also launched a petition to rename the telescope with thousands of signatures.
Despite Webb’s long-reported history of bigotry, NASA still decided to name the telescope after him. Even worse, the space agency described the $10 billion telescope as needing “a name worthy of its remarkable discoveries, a name that stands for a future in which we are all free”. Instead, the telescope is named after a man widely known for restricting and punishing individual freedom.
NASA won't rename the James Webb telescope
However, NASA won't back down from its homophobic telescope. Current NASA administrator Bill Nelson told NPR: “We have found no evidence at this time that warrants changing the name of the James Webb Space Telescope.”
Instead, the $10 billion telescope will search the stars plastered with the name of NASA's widely despised dead past. There's nothing quite like honouring the worst parts of your agency’s history like a massive telescope, is there?