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  NASA’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.


 
 

 
Raytheon photograph

Raytheon completes key Air, Missile Defense Radar reviews

Raytheon photograph Partially-populated, full-sized Air and Missile Defense Radar array. Raytheon has completed two critical program reviews for the new Air and Missile Defense Radar, the U.S. Navy’s next generation integ...
 
 
Insitu photograph

Insitu demonstrates long endurance capabilities of Integrator unmanned aircraft

Insitu photograph Insitu’s Integrator unmanned aircraft recovers via SkyHook; the aircraft recently completed a 24-hour endurance flight. Insitu announced July 22 the successful 24-hour flight of its Integrator unmanned a...
 
 

U.S. Navy selects Northrop Grumman for ship self-defense system

The U.S. Navy has awarded Northrop Grumman a $12 million task order for a full range of engineering services to continue modernizing the Ship Self-Defense System Mark 2. The contract has a potential value of $61 million over five years, if all options are exercised. SSDS MK2 is a combat system designed for anti-air defense...
 

 
Lockheed Martin photograph

Lockheed Martin selected for U.S. Air Force’s satellite hosted payload initiative

Lockheed Martin photograph Lockheed Martin has a long history of developing and integrating hosted payloads onto spacecraft. Since 2000, the company has delivered 84 payloads on 16 different types of satellites from multiple ma...
 
 
boeing-france

Boeing delivers upgraded French AWACS aircraft

Boeing on July 17 delivered on schedule the first of four upgraded French Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft. The upgraded aircraft will increase the fleet’s surveillance, communications and battle management ca...
 
 

Lockheed Martin demonstrates JAGM dual-mode guidance section in second flight test

Lockheed Martin recently demonstrated its Joint Air-to-Ground Missile dual-mode guidance section during a second internally funded flight test at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. During the test, the rail-mounted JAGM flew 6.2 kilometers and initially acquired the target using its precision strike, semi-active laser. The dual-mode guidance section then engaged its millimeter wave radar, and...
 




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>