He Fixed NASA’s Giant Space Telescope, Reluctantly


NASA; James Webb Space Telescope; Gregory Robinson


In 2018, the James Webb Space Telescope, the beleaguered project to build an instrument that could gaze back to the earliest stars in the universe, appeared to be going off the rails. Again.

The pieces of the telescope and its instruments were complete, but they needed to be assembled and tested. The launch date was slipping further into the future, and the costs, already approaching $8 billion, were again rising. Congress, which had provided several major infusions of financing over the years, was unhappy that NASA was asking for yet more money.

This is when Gregory Robinson was asked to take over as program director of Webb.

At the time, Mr. Robinson was the deputy associate administrator for programs at NASA, making him responsible for assessing the performance of more than 100 science missions.


By Kenneth Chang






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