At a recent meeting on NASA’s key instrument, the James Webb Space Telescope, the agency’s engineers voiced a strange thing. They said they were seriously wary of pirates. And we are not talking about space pirates (unfortunately), but about the most ordinary – earthly ones. Or rather, marine.
The fact is that the most important component of a space telescope is a special seven-meter mirror, covered with a protective cap the size of a tennis court. This whole structure is too large to be transported by air. Therefore, NASA engineers are forced to transport it by water through the Panama Canal to French Guiana in preparation for launch. And they fear that the precious equipment will attract the attention of marine robbers.
Of course, the time of transportation and the coordinates of the executing vessel are kept in the strictest confidence – just to prevent such a development of events. The only thing that is known is that the transportation will take place at the end of summer. Perhaps even this information is deliberate misinformation – after all, the mirror of a space telescope is worth more than $ 10 billion, and it can be kidnapped and taken away in a large enough boat. And this is not taking into account the fact that NASA engineers have spent more than two decades on this project.
Scientists are not optimistic by the fact that this is not the first abduction of such a plan. In 1984, the steel structure for the James Maxwell Telescope was stolen by a commercial captain hired to transport it. The sea thief subsequently demanded a solid ransom for her, but was arrested at gunpoint at the state border.