Electrical engineering alum and Northrop Grumman VP Scott P. Willoughby '89 discusses engineering behind 'most ambitious, complex space observatory ever built' in CBS News segment

The countdown is on to the launch of the revolutionary James Webb Space Telescope, which is currently scheduled for December 25. 

Lehigh engineering alum Scott P. Willoughby '89 recently sat down with CBS News correspondent David Pogue to preview the capabilities of the state-of-the-art successor to the Hubble Telescope and discuss the complexity of the technology and the launch and deployment mission.

The infared telescope is "capable of seeing stars so distant, their light has been traveling for nearly 14 billion years," according to CBS News, and it will "will usher in a new era in our understanding of the origin and evolution of the cosmos."

Willoughby, who is an electrical engineering alum, discusses the more than 300 "single-point failures" —maneuvers that have to go right—for a successful deployment. 

"You test them to greater extremes than they'll ever see," says Willoughby. 

Watch the full CBS interview below to learn more.

CBS News Video: The revolutionary James Webb Space Telescope

Scott Willoughby

Electrical engineering alum Scott P. Willoughby '89 is is the vice president and program manager for the James Webb Space Telescope program at Northrop Grumman.

Webb Placed on Top of Ariane 5

In this image from NASA (Dec. 11, 2021), the James Webb Space Telescope is secured on top of the Ariane 5 rocket that will launch it to space from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. After its arrival in the final assembly building, Webb was slowly hoisted nearly 130 feet and then perfectly aligned on top of the Ariane 5, after which technicians bolted Webb’s launch vehicle adapter down to the rocket.

Source: "Webb Placed on Top of Ariane 5" (CC BY 2.0) by James Webb Space Telescope

Image credit: ESA-M.Pedoussaut