RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — You’ve seen the first breathtaking images from the James Webb Space Telescope.

But did you know the telescope’s namesake was from central North Carolina?

The photographs that captured humanity’s deepest look yet into the cosmos brought attention to the former head of NASA.

Webb was born in Tally Ho, a township in Granville County, in 1906 and was the son of the county’s superintendent of schools who served for 26 years. 

He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1928 and came to Washington in 1932, spending two years as the secretary to U.S. Rep. Edward Pou, who represented North Carolina’s 4th Congressional district.

He also served as an assistant to former Gov. O. Max Gardner from 1934-36.

He was appointed by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 as the administrator of NASA, and was in charge when Kennedy set a goal to land an American on the moon before the end of the 1960s.

His tenure also included the deaths of three astronauts in a flash fire on the launch pad in 1967, and he shouldered much of the public blame for their deaths.

He stepped down the following year when President Lyndon B. Johnson chose not to run for re-election.

He died in 1992 at the age of 85, and the telescope was renamed after him a decade later. It launched on Christmas Day 2021.