Discovery Channel’s Telescope Is a Provocative Look Inside the Making of the James Webb Space Telescope, the next Generation of High Stakes Telescopes Designed to Revolutionize Future Studies of the Universe debuts February 20

Academy Award®-Nominated Filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn Directs Film That Traces the 400 Year Evolution of Telescopes

Telescope Premieres as Part of Science Channel Weekend on Discovery Channel February 20

Science Channel to Broadcast Film on Sunday February 21 


TELESCOPE, directed by Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn (“My Architect, “Two Hands”,) is a dynamic journey behind the scenes of the next step in the evolution of telescopes: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. A new generation has been inspired to design and build this massive instrument, which is 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope and will be a veritable time machine, capable of looking back on the origins of our universe and identifying signatures of potential life on planets far outside our solar system.  As many scientists and researchers explain, including Matt Mountain, current President of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) and former Director of Space Telescope Science Institute, the Webb may be able to answer the question we have been wondering for years, “Is there another home for the human race out there among the stars?”

With unprecedented access to the people and technologies that power its creation, including astrophysicists, engineers at Northrop Grumman, and personnel from NASA’S Goddard Space Flight Center and the Space Telescope Science Institute, the operations center for Hubble and Webb, TELESCOPE spotlights the high-stakes mission of building this massive new scientific instrument. The film is a comprehensive look at the dynamic history of 400 years of telescopes starting with Galileo in 1609. The Webb is the next great telescope in society’s ongoing mission to see farther into the universe and answer fundamental questions that have haunted mankind from the beginning of time.

TELECOPE is premieres as part of Science Weekend on Saturday, February 20 at 9PM ET/PT exclusively on Discovery Channel. Science Channel will premiere the film on Sunday February 21 at 9pm. Discovery Channel will air over 20 hours of science programming including “How It’s Made,” “Outrageous Acts of Science,” and “NASA’s Unexplained Files.” A science- themed “MythBusters” will air at 8pm ET/PT leading into the world premiere of TELESCOPE.

Building the Webb involves a thousand people from 14 countries using more than $8 billion of federal research dollars, which combine to establish the mission as one of the most ambitious scientific endeavors ever attempted. Driving the excitement and also anxiety is that unlike Hubble, Webb cannot be fixed if something goes wrong. It will be sent to the “L2” point, located a million miles from Earth, making this effort essentially “one strike and you’re out.” This large team from all over the world must come together for this high stakes mission and get it right the first time, when the telescope is deployed in October 2018.

For 400 years man has peered at the stars through instruments to figure out its place in the universe. With his primitive telescopes, Galileo discovered that the moon was not a perfect orb, that Venus has phases, and that the Milky Way is made of stars. Most significantly, through his observations of the orbiting moons of Jupiter, he proved for the first time that Earth is not at the center of everything.   TELESCOPE traces the entire arc of the scientific revolution, overthrowing ancient wisdom to investigate the mysteries of our origins and our future. Over the centuries, with telescopes of larger and larger apertures, scientists have peered ever more clearly into space; discovering the existence of new planets like Uranus and Neptune, proving that the Milky Way is just one of many galaxies, that the universe is expanding and that there was a Big Bang. Hubble, which turned 25 this year, took things to the next level, enabling scientists to determine the age of the universe, confirm the existence of black holes, and even analyze the atmosphere of a planet orbiting another star. The launch of the Kepler Space Telescope in 2011 yielded the paradigm-shifting discovery of planets far outside our solar system, and so numerous that for every star in the sky there is at least one planet.

As Webb launches, many in the scientific community are looking with high anticipation for the future. TELESCOPE discusses how Webb will begin to create a map of all of the places we could potentially go someday, searching, in tandem with other new telescopes, nearby stars for habitable planets. As Sara Seagar, astronomer, planetary scientist, and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, states in TELESCOPE, “Another Earth is undoubtedly out there.” While Webb will allow us to start to sketch out answers to many of these questions, bigger telescopes and new techniques are needed to truly understand our place in the universe and to guide us on our way towards someday making the great journey beyond our solar system.

TELESCOPE is directed by Nathaniel Kahn, produced by Lisa Remington; editor, Brad Fuller; cinematographers, Bob Richman and Nick Higgins; additional cinematography by Mike McClare and Mark Gambol; music by, Jeff Beal; executive producers; John Kamen, Justin Wilkes, Dave O’Connor. For Discovery Channel: supervising producer, Alexandra Moss; executive producer, John Hoffman. Produced by Radical Media in association with Crazy Boat Pictures, with special thanks to the Northrop Grumman Foundation.


About Discovery Channel

Discovery Channel is dedicated to creating the highest quality non-fiction content that informs and entertains its consumers about the world in all its wonder, diversity and amazement. The network, which is distributed to 100.8 million U.S. homes, can be seen in 210 countries and territories, offering a signature mix of compelling, high-end production values and vivid cinematography across genres including, science and technology, exploration, adventure, history and in-depth, behind-the-scenes glimpses at the people, places and organizations that shape and share our world. For more information, please visit


About Science Channel

Science Channel, a division of Discovery Communications, Inc, is home for the thought provocateur, the individual who is unafraid to ask the killer questions of “how” and “why not.” The network is a playground for those with audacious intellects and features programming willing to go beyond imagination to explore the unknown. Guided by curiosity, Science Channel looks for innovation in mysterious new worlds as well as in its own backyard. Science Channel and the Science Channel HD simulcast reaches over 75 million U.S. households. The network also features high traffic online and social media destinations, including, Channel and @ScienceChannel on Twitter.



About Discovery Communications

Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) is the world’s #1 pay-TV programmer reaching nearly 3 billion cumulative subscribers in more than 220 countries and territories. For 30 years Discovery has been dedicated to satisfying curiosity and entertaining viewers with high-quality content through its global television brands, led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet,Investigation Discovery and Science, as well as U.S. joint venture network OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. Discovery controls Eurosport, the leading pan-regional sports entertainment destination across Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. Discovery also is a leading provider of educational products and services to schools, including an award-winning series of K-12 digital textbooks, through Discovery Education, and a digital leader with a diversified online portfolio, including Discovery Digital Networks. For more information, please visit