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 November 26, 2014

News: When Hagel leaves, new SecDef faces big questions about the military’s futureĀ - President Obama’s new pick to run the Pentagon will face a dizzying set of challenges affecting the Defense Department’s mission, budget and culture. Who will be the next Secretary of Defense?- Following the Nov. 24 surprise announcement from the White House, the...
 
 

News Briefs November 26, 2014

Navy to decommission two more ships in Puget Sound The Navy recently decommissioned the guided missile frigate USS Ingraham at Everett, Wash. It will be towed to Bremerton and scrapped. The Daily Herald reports the Navy also plans to decommission another ship at the Everett homeport and also one stationed in Bremerton. Naval Station Everett...
 
 

NASA airborne campaigns tackle climate questions from Africa to Arctic

NASA photograph The DC-8 airborne laboratory is one of several NASA aircraft that will fly in support of five new investigations into how different aspects of the interconnected Earth system influence climate change. NASA photograph The DC-8 airborne laboratory is one of several NASA aircraft that will fly in support of five new investigations into...
 

 
Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend

16T Pitch Boom reactivated to support wind tunnel tests

Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend The Pitch Boom at the AEDC 16-foot transonic wind tunnel (16T) was recently reactivated. This model support system is used in conjunction with a roll mechanism to provide a combined pitch...
 
 

Northrop Grumman supports U.S. Air Force Minuteman missile test launch

Northrop Grumman recently supported the successful flight testing of the U.S. Air Force’s Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile weapon system. The operational flight test was conducted as part of the Air Force Global Strike Command’s Force Development Evaluation Program. This program demonstrates and supports assessment of the accuracy, availability and reliability of the...
 
 
army-detector

Scientists turn handheld JCAD into a dual-use chemical, explosives detector

Scientists at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., proved it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks by adding the ability to detect explosive materials to the Joint Chemical Age...
 




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>