The James Webb Space Telescope. Are you familiar? Named after the NASA administrator who served from 1961-1968, this telescope is set to replace the aging Hubble as our window into the furthest reaches of the universe. Hubble has allowed us to see further and learn more about our cosmos than any other device that I can recall. The JWST is set to build upon that legacy, and then some, with infrared instruments and a mirror that’s about seven times that of Hubble’s primary mirror.
Development and testing of the JWST is well underway, but the telescope is close to losing its funding entirely. Amid delays and cost overruns, the JWST is on the congressional chopping block. At some point, our leaders stopped dreaming.
Recently, this video from Real Time with Bill Maher was shared with me. Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director of the Hayden Planetarium, gets fired up when Bill brings up the JWST and puts some of the congressional decisions in perspective (much more eloquently and passionately than I could).
I love the way Dr. Tyson talks so passionately about the dream that we’ve so carelessly let slip away after taking it for granted for so many years. NASA has the tools to tell the stories that will help inspire a new generation of kids that will grow up without a Space Shuttle. For instance, the #NASATweetups for Juno and GRAIL help tell the tale of an ever exploring NASA even without the Shuttle. Even administrator Charles Bolden is often outspoken with his emotions when discussing the Space Shuttle and future SLS programs – it’s a refreshing honesty and story that I wish more people in leadership positions would share. What will it take for the leaders in our government to start dreaming again?