Came across this interesting tidbit while re-watching The West Wing the other night.

A very quick reference to the James Web Space Telescope, which was launched into space on 25 December 2021. This particular West Wing episode aired 11 February 2004! Absolutely incredible that this telescope, which had been in development since 1996, was mentioned on a television show I’m watching the year 2022 and referencing a thing which only made it to space in late 2021. If only they knew then!

From the Webb’s Wikipedia article:

Development began in 1996 for a launch that was initially planned for 2007 with a US$500 million budget. There were many delays and cost overruns, including a major redesign in 2005…

It’s a bit humorous that in this scene Josh is using The Webb to make a point that NASA only makes the front page by screwing up and the ultimate cost of The Webb was around $9.7 billion, all told. The telescope was supposed to only cost $1.6 billion. Curious to imagine how to episode would have handled the juxtaposition.

Of course, it’s fun to revisit old TV shows and find answers to questions we’ve only just figured out.