February 11, 2023 – Gregory Robinson, An Example of Black Excellence

Gregory L. Robinson

Gregory Robinson is partially responsible for the largest step toward learning about the universe in history.  He was Director of the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) which is already changing our understanding of the universe.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the largest optical telescope in space.  It was launched on December 25, 2021 on a rocket from French Guiana,  with first pictures released July 2022. It is the most sensitive telescope ever built. The JWST detects infrared cosmic light, which is better at penetrating dust clouds than visible light is.  This infrared cosmic light illuminates hitherto hidden regions where stars and solar systems form. Radiation of this type is emitted by ancient hot objects, such as stars and galaxies whose wavelengths have been stretched into the infrared spectrum by the universe’s expansion. The Telescope detects emissions of cool objects, such as planets potentially capable of hosting life. The Telescope’s ability to detect infrared light is set to spark a revolution in astronomy.

Gregory Robinson managed over 20,000 people across 29 countries and 14 states to turn the program around and double its efficiency. When he took the job, the program went from 55 percent to 95 percent completion of projects.  He managed funds and coordinated the White House, Office of Management and Budget, NASA, commercial contractors and four committees in the Senate and House of Representatives. The JWST is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. 

Mr. Robinson was listed as one of the 100 most Influential People of 2022 by Time magazine and was named the 2022 Federal Employee of the Year. 

Robinson’s parents were tobacco sharecroppers. He attended a segregated elementary school in Danville, VA.  He obtained a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Virginia Union University and earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Howard University.    

Gregory Robinson joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1989 and worked at the Goddard Space Flight Center before becoming Director of the James Webb Space Telescope Project. As Deputy Center director of the John H. Glenn Research Center, he oversaw 114 missions.

John Mather, a Nobel Laureate and NASA astrophysicist, says they trust Mr. Robinson to answer the questions and understand the concerns of the astrophysicists and make important decisions.   

150 150 Ethel Mitchell

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