James Webb, 9, watches James Webb telescope blast into space

8 January 2022, 10:04

James Webb
James Webb. Picture: PA

The child’s science-loving parents met while studying physics at Nottingham Trent University.

It will take the James Webb telescope just 30 days to reach the sun’s orbit, but for one little boy it will be quite literally the journey of a lifetime.

Barry and Sarah Webb met while studying physics at Nottingham Trent University.

So it was only natural for the pair to turn to their scientific backgrounds when trying to think of a name for their first child.

Hubble 31st birthday
The James Webb telescope will follow in the footsteps of the Hubble telescope launched 31 years ago (PA)

The pair began discussing potential names around the same time that the James Webb telescope narrowly escaped being cancelled in 2011.

“We were aware of the space telescope from way back when it was originally due to launch in 2007”, Barry said.

“We had James in 2012. The space telescope nearly got canned in 2011. But they managed to keep it afloat and keep it moving forwards.

“In late 2011 we were pondering names, and we were talking about the James Webb telescope.”

Barry said they chose the name after joking about the similarities between giving birth and space launches.

“Obviously with the last name being Webb, we decided to call him after that.

“We joked about (having James) being a significant scientific and engineering feat.”

The telescope had been due to launch not long after they named their son, but it was subject to repeated delays.

The Webbs had planned to take a family trip to French Guiana to watch the launch in person, but decided it was too risky after the launch date kept being put back.

Instead James and his extended family watched the launch at home on Christmas Day.

Barry said his son even put down his new toys to watch the telescope ascend into space.

“It was  Christmas day so he was somewhat excited already”, he said.

“He showed his interest as a nine-year-old to be able to stop, put all his stuff down and watch it without bouncing off the walls for ten minutes.”

Barry added: “He has definitely got a mathematical and scientific brain on his shoulders.”

By Press Association

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