Northrop Grumman Delivers James Webb Space Telescope Structure to NASA
Northrop Grumman, the leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide, has delivered on schedule the telescope structure for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Aug. 24 to Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. This important step begins paving the way for the integration of the 18 hexagonal mirrors that will help scientists observe the formation of the first stars and galaxies over 13.5 billion years ago.
Northrop Grumman aerospace systems telescope manager Scott Texter said,
"The telescope's beryllium mirrors are held together nearly motionlessly in space by the telescope structure, which also acts as a stable platform during ground test operations and launch. The stability of this hardware contributes to the Webb Telescope's ability to provide an unprecedented look at our own solar system, as well as discover exoplanets well beyond this solar system."
Identified as a top priority for astronomy and astrophysics by the National Research Council, the Webb Telescope is a key program for NASA and the scientific community and is central to the nation's ground- and space-based astrophysics program. The highly efficient telescope structure will also meet first-time thermal stability requirements to minimize thermal distortion. While the telescope is operating at a range of extremely cold temperatures as low as 389 degrees below Fahrenheit, the backplane portion of the telescope structure must not vary more than 38 nanometers. Additionally, the breakthrough folding design of the transformer-like telescope structure enables it to fit inside the 15-foot-diameter fairing of the launch vehicle. Secondary components of the telescope include secondary mirror structure and deployable tower assembly (DTA), which put its mirrors and instruments away from the heat of the main spacecraft. Billed as the largest telescope in space, the Webb Telescope is the next-generation space observatory and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.
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