Space

July 9, 2014

Northrop Grumman, ATK complete testing of backplane for Webb telescope

The backplane of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope was mounted to a structure for static load testing to verify it can withstand the rigors of launch and hold the weight needed to support the telescope in space. The backplane is the backbone of the observatory, the primary load carrying structure for launch, and holds the science instruments.

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. – Northrop Grumman and teammate ATK have completed static testing of the primary mirror backplane support structure, moving NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope one step closer to its 2018 launch.

The structure was delivered to Northrop Grumman’s facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif., completing a critical path program milestone. Static testing demonstrates that the backplane has the structural integrity to withstand the forces and vibrations of launch, and is the final test prior to starting the integration of the backplane with the rest of the telescope.

The PMBSS is one of the most lightweight (given its size and complexity), precision-alignment truss structures ever designed and built. It is the stable platform that holds the telescope’s science instruments and the 18 beryllium mirror-segments that form the 21-foot-diameter primary mirror nearly motionless while the telescope peers into deep space. The primary mirror is the largest mirror in the telescope, the one that starlight will hit first.

“This is the largest, most complex cryogenically stable structure humans have ever built,” said Scott Texter, Webb optical telescope element manager, Northrop Grumman. “Completion of the static testing verifies that it can hold the weight it is designed to hold. Now the structural backbone of the observatory is officially verified and ready for integration.”

The ATK team conducted static load testing of the James Webb Space Telescope backplane at Northrop Grumman’s Space Park facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif. and recently delivered the fully verified backplane.

Northrop Grumman is under contract to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and leads the industry team that designs and develops the Webb Telescope’s optics, sunshield and spacecraft. ATK designed, engineered and constructed the more than 10,000 parts of the entire PMBSS at its facilities in Magna, Utah. They used composite parts, lightweight graphite materials, contemporary material sciences and advanced fabrication techniques to build the structure.

“We are excited to deliver the state-of-the-art Webb structures to our partner Northrop Grumman for the journey into deep space,” said David Shanahan, vice president and general manager of ATK’s Space Components division.”ATK’s composite engineering and manufacturing accomplishments have been a fantastic achievement for all of us. We look forward to the discoveries that await the James Webb Space Telescope.”

The highly efficient PMBSS will meet unprecedented thermal stability requirements to minimize changes in the shape of the telescope caused when one side is hotter than the other. While the telescope is operating at a range of extremely cold temperatures from -406 to -343 degrees Fahrenheit, the backplane must not move more than 38 nanometers or approximately 1/1,000 the diameter of a human hair.

Last fall, the structure underwent extreme cryogenic thermal testing at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Next, Northrop Grumman will integrate the composite structures with the deployment mechanisms to create the overall optical telescope element structure, which will then be shipped to NASA Goddard for integration with the mirrors. NASA and Northrop Grumman will continue cryogenic testing of the PMBSS structure after mirror integration is complete.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s next-generation space observatory and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The most powerful space telescope ever built, 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. 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.


 
 

 

Headlines January 30, 2015

News: Taliban claims responsibility for attack on Americans at military base near airport - The Taliban claimed responsibility Jan. 30 for a shooting incident at a military base attached to Kabul’s international airport yesterday that killed three American civilian contractors and an Afghan national, saying the attacker had infiltrated the ranks of the security forces. Commission...
 
 

News Briefs January 30, 2015

Military judge weighs restrictions on Gitmo female guards A military judge is deciding whether to continue restricting the use of female guards at Guantanamo. Navy Capt. J. Kirk Waits heard closing arguments Jan. 29 at the base in Cuba during a pretrial hearing for Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi. Waits didn’t say when he will rule. Hadi...
 
 
Air Force photograph by 1st Lt. Jake Bailey

Cope South experts exchange knowledge, techniques

Air Force photograph by 1st Lt. Jake Bailey TSgt. Sam Bishop, center left, and SSgt. Jeffrey Stephens discuss propeller maintenance with Bangladesh air force maintainers, from the 101st Special Flying Unit, during exercise Cope...
 

 

Air Force names 2-star to lead F-35 Integration Office

With the initial operating capability date of the F-35 Lightning II quickly approaching, the Air Force appointed Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian as the director of a larger Air Force F-35 Integration Office, Feb. 1. In addition to gaining new leadership, the F-35 Integration Office will also grow from a staff of four to 12 and...
 
 
boeing-ana2

Boeing announces ANA’s commitment to more jetliners

Airline continues fleet modernization with Boeing airplanes Boeing and All Nippon Airways announced Jan. 30 the airline’s intent to purchase three 787-10 Dreamliners to add additional flexibility to the airline’s 787 fleet....
 
 
Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash

Air Force risks becoming too small to succeed under sequestration

Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee Jan. 28, 2015, in Washington, D.C., as Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Joesph F. Dunf...
 




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>