Space

April 24, 2012

NASA’s Webb telescope flight backplane section completed

NASA image
Artist's concept of the James Webb Space Telescope in orbit.

The center section of the backplane structure that will fly on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has been completed, marking an important milestone in the telescope’s hardware development.

The backplane will support the telescope’s beryllium mirrors, instruments, thermal control systems and other hardware throughout its mission.

“Completing the center section of the backplane is an important step in completing the sophisticated telescope structure,” said Lee Feinberg, optical telescope element manager for the Webb telescope at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “This fabrication success is the result of innovative engineering dating back to the technology demonstration phase of the program.”

The center section, or primary mirror backplane support structure, will hold Webb’s 18-segment, 21-foot-diameter primary mirror nearly motionless while the telescope peers into deep space. The center section is the first of the three sections of the backplane to be completed.

Measuring approximately 24 by 12 feet yet weighing only 500 pounds, the center section of the backplane meets unprecedented thermal stability requirements. The backplane holds the alignment of the telescope’s optics through the rigors of launch and over a wide range of operating temperatures, which reach as cold as minus 406 degrees Fahrenheit. During science operations, the backplane precisely keeps the 18 primary mirror segments in place, permitting the mirrors to form a single, pristine shape needed to take sharp images.

Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, Calif., and its teammate ATK in Magna, Utah, completed construction of the center section. Northrop Grumman is under contract to Goddard for the design and development of Webb’s sunshield, telescope and spacecraft. ATK manufactured 1,781 composite parts of the center section using lightweight graphite materials and advanced manufacturing techniques.

Successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, the Webb telescope is the world’s next-generation space observatory and will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. It 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.


Did you enjoy or perhaps disagree with something in this article? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Don’t forget, you can sign up for our email newsletter or subscribe to our RSS feed to keep up with our latest headlines.



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


 
 

 
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover arrives at Martian mountain

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has reached the Red Planet’s Mount Sharp, a Mount-Rainier-size mountain at the center of the vast Gale Crater and the rover mission’s long-term prime destination. “Curiosity n...
 
 

NASA announces 2014 aeronautics scholarship recipients

NASA has selected 20 students from across the nation to receive the agency’s Aeronautics Scholarship for the 2014-2015 school year. This scholarship program, which is in its seventh year, is designed to assist undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in fields of study related to aeronautics. Recipients were selected from hundreds of applications to the program....
 
 
NASA photograph by Dan Casper

NASA’s Orion spacecraft nears completion, ready for fueling

NASA photograph by Dan Casper The Orion crew module, stacked atop its service module, moved out of the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept 11. Orion was transporte...
 

 

NASA awards cross-track infrared sounder instrument for the JPSS-2

NASA has awarded a sole source contract modification to Exelis, Inc., Geospatial Systems, of Fort Wayne, Ind., for the Cross-track Infrared Sounder Instrument for flight on the Joint Polar Satellite System-2 mission. This is a cost-plus-award-fee modification in the amount of $221 million. This action extends the period of performance of the contract from November...
 
 
NASA photograph

NASA unveils world’s largest spacecraft welding tool for Space Launch System

NASA photograph A 16mm fisheye lens was used to show a wide angle view of the Vertical Assembly Center at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept 12. The VAC is the largest spacecraft...
 
 
boeing-satellite

Boeing receives first order for 502 Phoenix small satellite

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Boeing has received its first commercial order for the 502 Phoenix small satellite from HySpecIQ of Washington, D.C. The satellites will carry the commercial remote sensing industry’s first high...
 




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>