The North Carolina Mason

January/February 2016

North Carolina Mason

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The Mason NORTH CAROLINA Official Publication of e Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina Volume 141 Number 1 Oxford, North Carolina January/February 2016 By Ric Carter Even though their mission was to land on the moon, running NASA in the 1960s wasn't just rocket science. e agency best known for its rocket science is now saluting the politics- and business-savvy administrator who helped propel them into fulfilling one of the big- gest promises ever — landing a man on the moon in less than ten years. e Hubble Space Telescope's suc- cessor will be known as the James Webb Space Tele- scope after former NASA Administrator and North Carolina Mason James E. Webb. Scheduled for launch in 2018, the Webb Space Telescope will be the most powerful space telescope ever built, capable of observing the most distant ob- jects in the universe, providing images of the first galaxies formed, and observing unexplored planets around distant stars. It is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). In 1907, James E. Webb was born in Stem (some report Tally Ho) in southern Granville County. His dad was superintendent of schools there. (In fact, the school our kids at the Masonic Home for Children at- tend is named for his father.) James Webb got a degree in education from the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill. While a student there, he took his Ma- sonic degrees in University 408, later transferring his membership home to Oxford 396 which later became Oxford 122. He got his three degrees on consecutive Mondays in December 1927. He served in the Marine Corps before studying law at George Washington University in Washington, DC. He worked in the District of Columbia for sev- eral years before entering World War II as a Marine. After the war, he returned to the nation's capitol to serve the Truman Administration as under secretary of treasury, director of the Bureau of the Budget, and under Secretary of State. After the Truman Adminis- tration, Webb entered the private sector, joining Kerr- McGee Oil. Webb was called back to Washington from private industry in 1961. President John Kennedy and Vice- President Lyndon Johnson drafted him to head the Major space mission named for Tar Heel Mason James E. Webb National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He was to be the man to steer the agency through Ken- nedy's perhaps rash pledge to land a man on the Moon in less than ten years. Webb insisted, "I was not really the best person" for the job. Kennedy did not agree. He saw Webb's sharp political and managerial skills as just what the agency needed. "It's going to be a balanced program that does the job for the country," was Webb's demand. Webb insisted on a balanced approach to NASA; it must be more than just land a man on the moon. e space program, he insisted, must strike a balance between human space flight and science. It must serve as a cat- alyst for strengthening the country's universities and aerospace industry. According to a NASA biography, "James Webb politicked, coaxed, cajoled, and maneuvered for NASA… [As] a master at bureaucratic politics… [he] built a seamless web of political liaisons that brought continued support for and resources to accomplish the Apollo Moon landing on schedule." During his tenure, NASA developed robotic space- craft to explore the Moon and prepare us for landing. ey sent probes to Mars and Venus. By the time Webb retired months before the Apollo landing, NASA had mounted more than 75 space missions. Sean O'Keefe, former administrator of NASA said, "It's fitting that Hubble's successor be named in honor The first six of 18 mirrors of the Webb Telescope are prepared for cryogenic testing. NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham photo see WEBB, page 2

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