NASA has awarded medals to six Northrop Grumman Corporation employees for their contributions in designing and building the James Webb Space Telescope. Webb Telescope team vice president and program manager Scott Willoughby and director and chief engineer Charlie Atkinson received NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal; Webb director of vehicle engineering and sunshield manager Jim Flynn was awarded NASA’s Exceptional Public Achievement Medal; and spacecraft bus director Andy Cohen, sunshield chief engineer Andy Tao and optical telescope element manager Scott Texter received the agency’s Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal. The medals represent the highest level of recognition given by NASA to non-government individuals.
“The dedication and commitment of these individuals represent the pioneering spirit of our entire team and embody our relentless pursuit to advance human discovery,” said Kathy Warden, Northrop Grumman chair, chief executive officer and president. “From inventing technologies to creating zero gravity on earth for testing, our team built the world’s largest, most complex and powerful space telescope for NASA and we are all seeing the benefits of this incredible feat of engineering.”
The James Webb Space Telescope launched on Dec. 25, 2021 and finished its two-week-long deployment process in early January. As previously reported by AVweb, NASA released Webb’s first images last July. The agency’s goals for the telescope include searching for the first galaxies or luminous objects formed after the Big Bang, determining how galaxies evolved from their formation until now, observing the formation of stars from the first stages to the formation of planetary systems, and measuring the physical and chemical properties of planetary systems.