Space

April 18, 2012

Northrop Grumman’s key spacecraft structure for Webb telescope passes design review

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. – NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope continues to move ahead rapidly, with Northrop Grumman completing engineering design of the structure that supports the sunshield and keeps it aligned.

The sunshield support structure has passed its Critical Design Review and is now ready to be manufactured. The structure will hold the sunshield in rigid alignment with the spacecraft so that Webb’s primary mirrors stay in the sun’s shadow and are able to remain cold to detect very faint infrared light.

“This sunshield support structure balances the sunshield’s weight and tension so that it remains stable. The structure is very strong, yet quite light, weighing only 63 kilograms or 139 pounds, while supporting the sunshield itself, which weighs 700 kilograms or 1,543 pounds,” explained Andy Cohen, Webb spacecraft manager, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “The spacecraft is the foundation for the entire observatory and it provides the stability, strength and vibration suppression that allows the telescope to operate as designed.”

The sunshield support structure also serves to align and stabilize the 30-foot-long sunshield deployment palettes on either side of the telescope. As the telescope unfolds in space after launch, the palettes move from vertical to horizontal and provide a platform for the sunshield layers to unfurl. Keeping the sunshield’s alignment from drifting is critical to ensuring that the mirrors stay in the sun’s shadow.

Work on Webb’s spacecraft continues to move forward with a primary spacecraft model completed at the company’s engineering and manufacturing facility in Redondo Beach. The model will be used for integration and access planning and development.

Northrop Grumman is under contract to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. for the design and development of Webb’s sunshield, telescope and spacecraft.

Successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s next-generation space observatory. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. Webb will observe the most distant objects in the universe, provide images of the very first galaxies ever formed and study 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.


 
 

 
Image courtesy of NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T Pyle

NASA’s Kepler reborn, makes first exoplanet find of new mission

Image courtesy of NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T Pyle The artistic concept shows NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft operating in a new mission profile called K2. Using publicly available data, astronomers have confirmed K2&...
 
 
NASA illustration

NASA, planetary scientists find meteoritic evidence of Mars water reservoir

This illustration depicts Martian water reservoirs. Recent research provides evidence for the existence of a third reservoir that is intermediate in isotopic composition between the Red Planetís mantle and its current atmosphe...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph

Lockheed Martin-built MUOS-3 satellite encapsulated in launch vehicle fairing

Lockheed Martin photograph The U.S. Navy’s Mobile User Objective System-3 satellite (above) is encapsulated in its payload fairings for a scheduled Jan. 20, 2015 launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. MUOS ope...
 

 
NASA photograph

NASA’s Orion arrives back at Kennedy

NASA photograph NASA’s Orion spacecraft returned to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida Dec. 18, 2014. The spacecraft flew to an altitude of 3,600 miles in space during a Dec. 5 flight test designed to stre...
 
 

NASA launches new Micro-g NExT for undergraduates

NASA is offering undergraduate students an opportunity to participate in a new microgravity activity called Micro-g Neutral Buoyancy Experiment Design Teams. The deadline for proposals is Jan. 28, 2015. Micro-g NExT challenges students to work in teams to design and build prototypes of spacewalking tools to be used by astronauts for spacewalk training in the...
 
 
launch1

Storm fails to quench liftoff of secret reconnaissance satellite

The fiery launch of an Atlas V (541), among the most powerful of the venerable Atlas family, briefly dispelled the gloom over Californiaís Central Coast on the evening of Dec. 12. A team of personnel from United Launch Allianc...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>