Business

August 23, 2013

ATK delivers backbone of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

atk-telescope
 

ATK has shipped the primary mirror backplane support structure for ┬áNASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to Marshall Space Flight Center, completing an important milestone for the most powerful space telescope ever to be built.

The highly engineered PMBSS is the backbone of the telescope, supporting the telescope’s beryllium mirrors, instruments and other elements. It also holds the 18-segment, 21-foot-diameter primary mirror nearly motionless while the telescope is peering into deep space. ATK built the PMBSS on time and within budget at its facility in Magna, Utah, under a contract with prime contractor Northrop Grumman.

“With this shipment, ATK has fulfilled a critical milestone for the program,” said Scott Texter, Webb Optical Telescope Element manager for Northrop Grumman.

Measuring approximately 24 feet tall by 19.5 feet wide by more than 11 feet deep when fully deployed, and weighing only 2,180 pounds, the PMBSS supports the mission payload and instruments weighing more than three times its own weight. The folding design of the PMBSS enables the telescope to fit inside the 15-foot-diameter fairing of the launch vehicle.

ATK designed, engineered and constructed more than 10,000 parts of the PMBSS using lightweight graphite materials, state-of-the-art material sciences and advanced fabrication techniques. The composite parts attach in many cases to precision metallic fittings, made of precision materials such as invar and titanium that provide interfaces with other elements of the observatory.

“ATK has enjoyed teaming with NASA and Northrop Grumman on the Webb Telescope program,” said David Shanahan, vice president and general manager of ATK’s Space Components division. “We are proud to know that the technologies and inventions we developed to enable this NASA flagship mission will benefit science and engineering for generations to come.”

The PMBSS will also meet unprecedented thermal stability requirements to minimize thermal distortion. While the telescope is operating at a range of extremely cold temperatures, from -406 to -343 degrees Fahrenheit, the backplane must not vary more than 38 nanometers (approximately 1/1,000th the diameter of a human hair). For reference, if the mirror were enlarged to span from Los Angeles to New York City, the tolerance for error would be less than 1 inch.

Upon arrival at Marshall Space Flight Center, the PMBSS will undergo extreme cryogenic thermal testing. The PMBSS will then undergo structural static testing at Northrop Grumman’s facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif., in early 2014 before NASA and Northrop Grumman ready the observatory for its 2018 launch.

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

 




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


 
 

 
LM-C5

Double Deuce

A U.S. Air Force crew ferried the 22nd C-5M Super Galaxy from the Lockheed Martin facilities in Marietta, Ga., Aug. 25. Aircraft 86-0011 was ferried by a crew led by Maj. Gen. Dwyer L. Dennis, Director, Global Reach Programs, O...
 
 
Northrop Grumman photograph

First ever RQ-4 Global Hawk hits 100th flight on NASA mission

Northrop Grumman photograph A historical look at the first Global Hawk (AV1) during its maiden flight over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on Feb. 28, 1998. AV1 has made history again with its 100th flight in support of NASA en...
 
 

Northrop Grumman’s CIRCM system completes U.S. Army flight testing

Northrop Grumman’s Common Infrared Countermeasures system recently completed another round of U.S. Army testing by demonstrating its capabilities on a UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter. The flight test was conducted at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., by the Redstone Test Center. The Northrop Grumman CIRCM system was subjected to rigorous conditions over a six-week period, after...
 

 

USSOCOM signs a five-year framework contract for the Carl-Gustaf weapon system

Defense and security company Saab has signed a new framework contract with the U.S. Special Operations Command for the company’s Carl-Gustaf man-portable weapon system (in the U.S. named MAAWS; Multi-role, Anti-armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System). The contract is a follow on agreement to a previous five-year contract for the 84mm recoilless rifle system. In connection with...
 
 

RQ-4 Global Hawk demonstrates expanded mission capabilities

With several test flights this summer, the U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk Wide Area Surveillance Unmanned Aircraft System proved its ability to operate with an expanded variety of intelligence exploitation ground stations and collect mission data in more places. The RQ-4 Global Hawk UAS is built by Northrop Grumman and is equipped with a...
 
 
boeing-jordan

Boeing celebrates delivery of Royal Jordanian’s first 787 Dreamliner

  Boeing and Royal Jordanian Aug. 27 celebrated the delivery of the airline’s first 787 Dreamliner. The airplane will play a central role in the Amman-based airline’s strategic plan for fleet modernization. Roy...
 




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>