NASA has doubled down on not renaming its James Webb Space Telescope following an investigation into its namesake. Back in December, the US government agency launched the device – which has been described as the most powerful and largest telescope ever created.
However before its official launch, 1,200 scientists signed a petition calling for NASA to rename the device after unsettling evidence claimed that Webb took part in the Lavender Scare – a “purge” of LGBTQ+ government employees between the 1950s and 1960s.
According to a report from Scientific American, during Webb’s time as NASA’s undersecretary, he drafted an array of memos that discussed “the problem of homosexuals and sex perverts.” Shortly after the complaints were made, the space organisation launched an investigation into “Webb’s role in the government.” After a tightlipped internal review in September 2021, NASA administrator Bill Nelson announced that the telescope would not be renamed – resulting in backlash from astronomers.
On 18 November, the government agency doubled down on its stance by making the “extensive investigation” public – which NASA’s chief historian Brian Odom led. “Based on available evidence, the agency does not plan to change the name of the James Webb Space Telescope.