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Gregory L. Robinson: Former Director of the James Webb Space Telescope Program at NASA

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Gregory Robinson, NASA’s Program Director for the James Webb Space Telescope project, was present at the historic event on Christmas Day 2021. The $10 billion telescope was launched into space on an Ariane 5 rocket from the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana. NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency collaborated on the hexagonally-shaped telescope, which was made up of multiple foldable mirrors. The telescope will be able to see galaxies up to 13 billion light years away.

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Gregory Robinson was the son of tobacco sharecroppers in Danville, Virginia, before becoming the Webb Telescope Program Director. Robinson attended racially segregated schools until 1970, when Danville implemented integration. Despite the lack of resources and opportunities provided by the schools he attended, Robinson’s teachers and church members made certain that he and his peers were determined to obtain an education. Fortunately for Robinson, he was able to continue his education after graduating from Dan River High School in 1978, thanks to a full-ride scholarship to Virginia Union University, where he earned a degree in mathematics.

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He then transferred to Howard University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Robinson continued his education at Averett College in Danville, where he earned his MBA. He also attended Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government as a Senior Executive Fellow.

Gregory Robinson joined NASA as a full-time employee in 1989, spending the first eleven years in various leadership roles at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

He was reassigned to NASA headquarters in 1999 and served as the Glenn Research Center’s Deputy Center Director, NASA’s Deputy Chief Engineer, and acting National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service Deputy Assistant Administrator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He was named Program Director of the James Webb Space Telescope project in 2018. His role in the project was to improve testing efficiency in order to ensure the mission’s success.

JWST successfully reached the second Sun-Earth Lagrange point (L2) on January 24, 2022, and has since deployed its primary and secondary mirror segments. The installation of the mirrors has allowed engineers to begin the three-month journey of orienting the telescope to achieve precision to the nearest nanometer. The telescope saw its first star on February 11th, 2022, delivering triumph as the alignment process continues.

Gregory Robinson was a key figure in the development of the world’s most powerful telescope. His presence at the forefront of this event serves as an inspiration to future scientists. In February 2022, Robinson received the Roy L. Clay Sr Technology Pinnacle Award.

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Written by How Africa News

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