The Amazing Mr. Webb

The incoming president, John F. Kennedy, had a problem. The previous (and first) administrator of NASA had resigned and a new one was needed. Who would head up the space agency?

More than a dozen candidates had been offered the position—and refused. Kennedy dispatched his VP, the forceful Lyndon Johnson, to get someone—anyone!—to fill the job. After much cajoling and arm-twisting, Johnson persuaded a reluctant James Webb to accept. Webb, a seemingly colorless beauracrat who had been Treasury Secretary for Truman, began a job he did not (at first) love on Valentine’s Day 1961.

His story is one of unexpected drama, an indespensible man without whom a moonlanding might have never happened.

Our interactive digital exhibit begins soon.

NASA Administrator James Webb