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Inside the Star Factory: The Creation of the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA's Largest and Most Powerful Space Observatory By Chris Gunn, Christopher Wanjek Cover Image
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A fascinating, ground-level backstage pass to the creation, launch, and reach of the James Webb Space Telescope.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the world’s largest orbiting astronomy observatory, is now nearly a million miles from Earth, probing the first stars and galaxies, documenting the structure and evolution of the universe, and searching for signs of life in other solar systems. In a series of extraordinary photographs, Inside the Star Factory tells the story of the Webb Telescope from conception to launch—a marvel of ingenuity and engineering that entailed more than 100 million people hours over a span of thirty years.

The project’s lead photographer Chris Gunn was there from the start, documenting the Webb’s tumultuous history—the behind-the-scenes details of its construction, from the cutting-edge technology required for an observatory operating at temperatures as low as –370°F, beyond reach for repair, to the human story of an engineering team pursuing an unprecedented goal under incomparable pressure. Derided as the “telescope that ate astronomy,” billions of dollars over budget, ten years over schedule, nearly canceled twice, Webb was simply too big to fail.

Accompanied by science writer Christopher Wanjek’s overview of the Webb’s history and profiles of the scientists and engineers who built it, this exclusive illustrated guide shows readers the heady world of scientific discovery at the very limits of human knowledge—and the very beginning of space and time.

About the Author

Chris Gunn is a photographer based in Washington, DC, who specializes in creating images of science and technology. His photographs have been featured in Scientific American, Wired, National Geographic, and the New York Times.

Christopher Wanjek is the author of Bad Medicine, Food at Work, and the acclaimed Spacefarers: How Humans Will Settle the Moon, Mars, and Beyond. His work has appeared in such venues as the Washington Post, Smithsonian, and Live Science.

Praise For…

Included in Publishers Weekly's Fall 2023 Adult Announcements Science list

“A fascinating close-up of the development of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope . . . the real appeal of this generously illustrated volume is Gunn’s photos of engineers constructing and testing the telescope inside NASA’s workshop. It’s an intimate view of an astounding scientific achievement.” 
Publishers Weekly

Inside the Star Factory by NASA photographer Chris Gunn and science writer Christopher Wanjek invites readers on a three-decade journey from the project’s first conception to its momentous launch . . . Mr. Gunn’s revelatory photography . . . allows us to appreciate the people behind this marvel of science.” 
—Wall Street Journal
“The definitive illustrated account of [an] extraordinary achievement.”
Paradigm Explorer

Product Details
ISBN: 9780262047906
ISBN-10: 026204790X
Publisher: The MIT Press
Publication Date: October 17th, 2023
Pages: 188
Language: English