The Los Angeles Times featured electrical engineering alum Scott Willoughby '89 in a story featuring the professionals behind the James Webb Space Telescope that was launched on Christmas Day from French Guiana, on South America’s northern coast.

Willoughby, the telescope’s program manager at Northrop Grumman, "is part of a cadre of thousands of aerospace workers across NASA, Northrop and other firms who have devoted a huge part of their careers — some inadvertently — to this singular mission."

The article, "Meet the people bringing us answers on the big bang, and their 13,000-pound helper," describes how the groundbreaking observatory—"the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which has observed distant stars and galaxies for more than 30 years but can’t see the first galaxies formed in the universe as Webb will be able to"—must now "unfold while in space and work in cryogenic temperatures."

Willoughby describes Webb as his "middle child,” having worked on the project for 12 years. 

According to the article, work on the telescope:

"spans nearly two decades, including about a decade of delays, numerous technical challenges and a hurricane that almost derailed a testing round. It culminated with Saturday’s launch, which Willoughby likened to seeing his two daughters leave home for college.

“When your kids leave home for that momentous occasion to start that adult life ... you want them to do that and be successful, but you also want to follow them,” he said. “But you can’t.”

Read the full article, by Samantha Masunaga, on the Los Angeles Times website.  

Scott P. 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.

James Webb Space Telescope Launch

In this NASA photo, Arianespace's Ariane 5 rocket launches with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope onboard, Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021, from the ELA-3 Launch Zone of Europe’s Spaceport at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana. (Photo Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn)

James Webb Space Telescope Launch

Webb's Final Fold: In this May 2021 photo, Webb was at the Northrop Grumman facility. During this approximate time period (late spring to early summer), the telescope was having its sunshield packed up and prepped for launch, and the final test fold of the mirror wings was also taking place. (Image credit: Northrop Grumman)