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The Art of Manufacturing podcast gives a behind-the-scenes look at how inspiring entrepreneurs who make stuff are trying to “make it” in their industries. Find it on iTunes, iHeart, Stitcher and other popular platforms. Subscribe to never miss an episode!

Sep 13, 2018

$9 billion and a million miles away: we get a special behind-the-scenes tour of NASA’s most ambitious and risky project ever. The James Webb Space Telescope will let us to look billions of years back in time and look at exoplanets in other galaxies. It’s pushing the boundaries of what is technologically possible.

When you think of manufacturing, you probably imagine mass production, but this project is one-of-a-kind. And because it’s headed a million miles away into orbit past the moon, if something breaks, it can’t be fixed. As the vice president and program manager of the whole project, Scott Willoughby has one shot at getting it right.

I was curious: how can you take risks and innovate when you’re working on something so high stakes and under such big scrutiny? So I went to Northrop Grumman in El Segundo, the prime contractor, to find out. We start with a special behind-the-scenes tour of the telescope from systems engineer Krystal Puga. And then, Scott joins us as we talk about the risks and rewards and what’s next for the program. We also learn about Scott and Krystal’s backgrounds, which will probably surprise you!

Links and social handles:

The James Webb Space Telescope home page:

“Seeing Beyond” video (14:02):


Northrop Grumman’s site for the JWST:

The JWST on Wikipedia:


Instagram: @NASAWebb

Twitter: @NASAWebb


Northrop Grumman:


Twitter: @northropgrumman

Instagram: @northropgrumman



#NorthropGrumman #Webb #JWST #JamesWebbSpaceTelescope #nasa


For more information, bios, and links, check out the show notes at