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 July 21, 2014

News: IDF releases Iron Dome interception rate - Israel’s Iron Dome system has successfully intercepted 86 percent of the Palestinian rockets that it has engaged during Operation ‘Protective Edge’, according to the Israel Defense Forces.   Business: The turnaround of France’s defense giant Thales - Within seconds of meeting Jean-Bernard Levy it becomes apparent that h...
 
 

News Briefs July 21, 2014

Corruption investigated in Kansas National Guard The Kansas Adjutant General’s office says federal authorities are investigating possible corruption involving outside medical companies’ contracts with the Kansas Army National Guard. Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the adjutant general’s office, confirmed the investigation Friday to The Lawrence Journal-World but declined to rel...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend

B61 undergoes testing in AEDC wind tunnel

Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend Arnold Engineering Development Complex engineers recently joined researchers with Sandia National Laboratories to perform a wind tunnel test on a full-scale mock-up B61. Pictured with the...
 

 
Army photograph by Charles Kennedy

New CT scanner finds diverse, important uses for researchers

Army photograph by Charles Kennedy Turning a now-standard tool for medical diagnostics and therapeutics to a host of new applications, the U. S. Army Research Laboratory’s Survivability/Lethality Analysis Directorate rece...
 
 

Ingalls Shipbuilding awarded $23.5 million LHA 8 affordability contract

Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Ingalls Shipbuilding division has been awarded an affordability design contract for $23.5 million for early industry involvement to reduce the construction and life-cycle cost for the amphibious assault ship LHA 8. “Ingalls Shipbuilding has been constructing large-deck amphibious ships for nearly 50 years, and this contract will build on our company...
 
 
Marine Corps photograph

DOD identifies missing World War II Marine

Marine Corps photograph Marines wounded during the landing on Tarawa in November 1943 are towed out on rubber boats to larger vessels that will take them to base hospitals. The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office...
 




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>