Everyone was enthralled by the magnificence of the first photographs from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, and everyone from scientists to celebrities could not stop praising the accomplishment. It offered a view of the splendour and size of the cosmos with the aid of its deep infrared cameras and even gave useful information for researchers.
The naming of the next-generation observatory, on the other hand, has sparked debate within the scientific community.
The observatory was named for James Webb, a renowned NASA administrator best known for leading the Apollo programme. He contributed to a number of key NASA programmes between 1961 and 1968, and many credit him with starting the organization’s ‘golden period.’
His professional life was not without controversy, though. Three Apollo I astronauts perished in a 1967 ground test in Florida when he served as NASA’s chief executive.
Webb’s involvement in the ‘Lavender Scare,’ a period in US history when a number of homosexuals were expelled from federal jobs, is the other significant charge against him.
A individual was sacked from his position at NASA during Webb’s time there when his supervisors suspected him of being gay. In the past, roughly 91 persons are said to have lost their employment for such reasons in 1950, when Webb worked for the US State Department, according to accounts.
While his role is still not clear, a column in Scientific American at the time said that his names appear in Lavender Scare memos.
‘The records clearly show that Webb planned and participated in meetings during which he handed over homophobic material,’ the column read according to a report by CNET.
‘There is no record of him choosing to stand up for the humanity of those being persecuted.’