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.


 
 

 
Images courtesy of NASA/JHU-APL/SwRI

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft stays course to Pluto

Images courtesy of NASA/JHU-APL/SwRI These images show the difference between two sets of 48 combined 10-second exposures with New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) camera, taken at 8:40 UTC and 10:25 UTC...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph

Fourth Lockheed Martin-built MUOS secure comm satellite shipped

Lockheed Martin photograph On June 28, MUOS-4, the next satellite scheduled to join the U.S. Navy’s Mobile User Objective System secure communications network, shipped to Cape Canaveral from Lockheed Martin’s satellite manu...
 
 
Photograph courtesy of NASA/CXC/U. Wisconsin/S. Heinz

NASA’s Chandra captures x-ray echoes pinpointing distant neutron star

Photograph courtesy of NASA/CXC/U. Wisconsin/S. Heinz A light echo in X-rays detected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has provided a rare opportunity to precisely measure the distance to an object on the other side of the...
 

 

Veteran NASA spacecraft nears 60,000th lap around Mars

NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft will reach a major milestone June 23, when it completes its 60,000th orbit since arriving at the Red Planet in 2001. Named after the bestselling novel “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke, Odyssey began orbiting Mars almost 14 years ago, on Oct. 23, 2001. On Dec. 15, 2010, it...
 
 
nasa-study

NASA selects six wild ideas in aviation for further study

NASA has selected six proposals to study transformative ideas that might expand what’s possible in aviation, shifting the boundary between fantastic and futuristic. During a day-long meeting in April, 17 teams pitched the...
 
 
NASA photograph

NASA signs agreement with Space Florida to operate historic landing facility

NASA photograph This aerial photo of the runway at the KSC Shuttle Landing Facility looks north. Longer and wider than most commercial runways, it is 15,000 feet long, with 1,000-foot paved overruns on each end, and 300 feet wi...
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>