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NASA emails reveal internal discussions over calls to rename James Webb Space Telescope: report

The 1960s agency administrator’s treatment of LGBTQ people has come under question.

New documents suggest that NASA officials dismissed concerns raised by the LGBTQ community over the name of its newest observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope. NASA was aware that discrimination against LGBTQ people took place in the agency under the leadership of 1960s administrator James Webb when it refused to remove the man’s name from its flagship mission, new documents obtained by Nature reveal. In early 2021, a group of astronomers petitioned NASA to change the name of the space observatory of the century, the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope, arguing that his actions contributed to the “Lavender Scare” targeting LGBTQ people in government at the time. NASA dismissed the request in September 2021, claiming it had no evidence to support the allegation, and never published a report into the investigation, according to Nature. The new documents, obtained under a freedom of information request, however, tell a different story. They show that NASA was aware of a 1969 court case filed by a former NASA employee who had been fired in 1963 because supervisors thought he was gay.


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