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.


 
 

 
Lockheed Martin photograph

NASA’s Orion Spacecraft powers through first integrated system testing

Lockheed Martin photograph Engineers in the Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, perform avionics testing on the Orion spacecraft being prepared for its first trip to space later this ye...
 
 

NASA’s Hubble extends stellar tape measure 10 times farther into space

Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers now can precisely measure the distance of stars up to 10,000 light-years away – 10 times farther than previously possible. Astronomers have developed yet another novel way to use the 24-year-old space telescope by employing a technique called spatial scanning, which dramatically improves Hubble’s accuracy for making angular meas...
 
 
LM-AEHF

Fourth AEHF protected communications satellite begins integration months ahead of schedule

The fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite produced by Lockheed Martin is taking shape after early deliveries of its payload and propulsion core. AEHF-4, expected to launch in 2017, will enable the constellation to ...
 

 
nasa-telescope

NASA looks to go beyond batteries for space exploration

NASA is seeking proposals for the development of new, more capable, energy storage technologies to replace the battery technology that has long powered America’s space program. The core technologies solicited in the Wedne...
 
 

Near Infrared Camera Integrated into space telescope

Lockheed Martin and the University of Arizona have delivered the primary imaging instrument of the James Webb Space Telescope to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The new Near Infrared Camera, or NIRCam, has been successfully integrated within the heart of the telescope, known as the Integrated Science Instrument Module. The integration completes the suite of...
 
 

NASA awards robotics, vehicle, graphics simulation services contract

NASA has selected MacLean Engineering & Applied Technologies of Houston to provide simulation model development for organizations at the agency’s Johnson Space Center, also in Houston. This indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract has firm-fixed price and cost-plus fixed-fee task orders. Beginning July 1, the contract has a three-year base period followed by two one-year opt...
 




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>