Space & Technology

August 7, 2017
 

Sunshield layers fully integrated on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

NG-telescope
The five sunshield layers responsible for protecting the optics and instruments of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope are now fully installed.

Northrop Grumman, which designed the Webb telescope’s optics, spacecraft bus, and sunshield for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, integrated the final flight layers into the sunshield subsystem.

Designed by Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach, Calif., the sunshield layers work together to reduce the temperatures between the hot and cold sides of the observatory by approximately 570 degrees Fahrenheit. Each successive layer of the sunshield, which is made of Kapton, is cooler than the one below.

“This is a huge milestone for the Webb telescope as we prepare for launch,” said Jim Flynn, Webb sunshield manager, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “The groundbreaking tennis-court sized sunshield will protect the optics from heat making it possible to gather images of the formation of stars and galaxies more than 13.5 billion years ago.”

“All five sunshield membranes have been installed and will be folded over the next few weeks,” said Paul Geithner, deputy project manager — technical for the Webb telescope at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The Webb telescope’s sunshield will prevent the background heat from the Sun, Earth and Moon from interfering with the telescope’s infrared sensors. The five sunshield membrane layers that were manufactured by the NeXolve Corporation in Huntsville, Alabama, are each as thin as a human hair. The sunshield, along with the rest of the spacecraft, will fold origami-style into an Ariane 5 rocket.

The Webb telescope is the world’s next-generation space observatory and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Webb Telescope will observe distant objects in the universe, provide images of the first galaxies formed and see unexplored planets around distant stars. The Webb Telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines – December 13, 2017

News Pentagon unleashes 2,400 auditors for unprecedented financial review – After decades of false starts, the Defense Department aims to issue its first audit report in November 2018.   Court refuses Trump request to delay Jan. 1 transgender enlistments – A federal court has knocked down the Trump administration’s latest request to delay any transgender...
 
 

News Briefs – December 13, 2017

Military fails to disclose criminal convictions to FBI A recent lapse by the U.S. Army to disclose a Texas veteran’s criminal record to the FBI is the latest example of the military failing to document criminal convictions, according to a newspaper’s review. Former Army 1st Sgt. Gregory McQueen pleaded guilty two years ago to more...
 
 
NG-army

Northrop Grumman, U.S. Army successfully demonstrate multi-domain, joint air, missile defense

The Northrop Grumman-developed Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System, the foundation of the U.S. Army IAMD, has successfully demonstrated extraordinary capabilities for improving joint force operational effec...