NASA’s Webb Space Telescope Launch Delayed to 2019

The most powerful space telescope ever built will have to wait on the ground for a few more months into 2019 before launching to the High Frontier and looking back nearly to the beginning of time and unraveling untold astronomical secrets on how the early Universe evolved – Engineers need a bit more time to complete its incredibly complex assembly and testing here on Earth.

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sampler Slingshots Around Earth Friday, Sept. 21 – Catch It If You Can!

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – Barely a year after NASA’s OSIRIS-REx robotic asteroid sampler launched on a trailblazing mission to snatch a soil sample from a pristine asteroid and return it to Earth for research analysis, the probe is speeding back home for a swift slingshot around our home planet on Friday Sept. 22 to gain a gravity assist speed boost required to complete its journey to the carbon rich asteroid Bennu and back.

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Sunshield Layers Installed on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope as Mirror Cryo Cooling Testing Commences

The complex multilayered sunshield that will protect the delicate optics and state of the art science instruments of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is now fully installed on the spacecraft bus in California, completing another major milestone on the path to launch, NASA announced.

The post Sunshield Layers Installed on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope as Mirror Cryo Cooling Testing Commences appeared first on Universe Today.

NASA Webb Telescope Resumes Rigorous Vibration Qualification Tests

Engineers have resumed a series of critical and rigorous vibration qualification tests on NASA’s mammoth James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland to confirm its safety, integrity and readiness for the unforgiving environment of space flight.

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NASA Webb Telescope Structure is Sound After Vibration Testing Detects Anomaly

NASA GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER, MD – The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is now deemed “sound” and apparently unscathed, engineers have concluded, based on results from a new batch of intensive inspections of the observatory’s structure, after concerns were raised in early December when technicians initially detected “anomalous readings” during a preplanned series of vibration tests, NASA announced Dec. 23.

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Time-lapse Video Documents Assembly of Webb Telescope Primary Mirror

This overhead shot of the James Webb Space Telescope shows part of the installation of the 18 primary flight mirrors onto the telescope structure in a clean room at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Gunn See time-lapse video below

[caption id="attachment_126323" align="aligncenter" width="4758"]This rare overhead shot of the James Webb Space Telescope shows the nine primary flight mirrors installed on the telescope structure in a clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.  Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Gunn This overhead shot of the James Webb Space Telescope shows part of the installation of the 18 primary flight mirrors onto the telescope structure in a clean room at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Gunn
See time-lapse video below[/caption]

NASA GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER, MD – A time-lapse video newly released by NASA documents the painstakingly complex assembly of the primary mirror at the heart of the biggest space telescope ever conceived by humankind – NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

Although the video, seen here, is short, it actually compresses over two and a half months of carefully choreographed and very impressive mirror installation effort into less than 90 seconds.

https://youtu.be/1d1sHLkmNQI

Video caption: This time-lapse shows the assembly of the primary mirror of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

JWST is the scientific successor to NASA’s 25 year old Hubble Space Telescope and will be the most powerful space telescope ever built.

Webb is designed to look at the first light of the Universe and will be able to peer back in time to when the first stars and first galaxies were forming. It will also study the history of our universe and the formation of our solar system as well as other solar systems and exoplanets, some of which may be capable of supporting life on planets similar to Earth.

The Webb telescopes huge primary mirror is comprised of 18 hexagonal-shaped primary mirror segments measuring 21.3-foot (6.5-meter) in diameter.

They were installed onto the telescopes backbone structure by technicians assisted by a specially designed robotic arm. They worked day and night in a massive clean room at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The team used the claw-like robotic arm to meticulously latch onto each mirror to maneuver and attach each of the 18 primary mirrors onto the telescope structure.
Together, the 18 mirrors form a honeycomb like structure.

The intricate assembly work to piece the primary mirrors together began just before the Thanksgiving 2015 holiday, when the first unit was successfully installed onto the central segment of the mirror holding backplane assembly.

One by one the team populated the telescope structure with the primary mirrors at a pace of roughly two per week since the installations started some two and a half months ago.

The primary mirror was completely assembled on February 3, 2016.

During the installation process each of the gold coated primary mirrors was covered with a black colored cover to protect them from optical contamination.

Indeed the assembly of Webb’s primary mirror marks the culmination of a decade of work to design, develop and manufacture the telescope and counts as the start of the final assembly phase that will ultimately lead to its launch in late 2018.

Each primary mirror measures just over 4.2 feet (1.3 meters) across and weighs approximately 88 pounds (40 kilograms). They are about the size of a coffee table and made of beryllium.

In space, the folded mirror structure will unfold into side by side sections and work together as one large 21.3-foot (6.5-meter) mirror, unprecedented in size and light gathering capability.

The Webb Telescope is a joint international collaborative project between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

Watch this space for my ongoing reports on JWST mirrors, construction and testing.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

The post Time-lapse Video Documents Assembly of Webb Telescope Primary Mirror appeared first on Universe Today.

James Webb Space Telescope Mirror Installation Reaches Halfway Point

This rare overhead shot of the James Webb Space Telescope shows the nine primary flight mirrors installed on the telescope structure in a clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.  Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Gunn

As history closes in on 2015, assembly of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reached a historic milestone as the installation of the primary mirrors onto the telescope structure reached the halfway point to completion and marks the final assembly phase of the colossal observatory.

Technicians have just installed the ninth of 18 primary flight mirrors onto the mirror holding backplane structure at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The team is using a robotic arm to carefully but diligently attach each mirror to the structure of the colossal observatory that will eventually become the most powerful telescope ever sent to space.

“This fall we start installing every mirror,” said Sandra Irish, JWST lead structural engineer during a recent interview with Universe Today at the NASA Goddard clean room facility.

The painstaking assembly work to piece the mirrors together began when the first unit was successfully installed onto the central segment just before the Thanksgiving 2015 holiday.

Working inside the massive clean room at NASA Goddard dedicated to the task, the engineering team manipulates the huge robotic arm to precisely lift and lower each gold coated mirror into place onto the observatory’s critical mirror holding backplane assembly.

“We are in good shape with the James Webb Space Telescope,” said Dr. John Mather, NASA’s Nobel Prize Winning scientist, in a recent exclusive interview with Universe Today at NASA Goddard.

The actual flight mirror backplane is comprised of three segments – the main central segment and a pair of outer wing-like segments holding three mirrors each.

One by one the team has first been populating the 12 unit central segment of the telescope structure with the primary mirrors at a pace of roughly two per week since the installations started some five weeks ago.

The pair of foldable side mounted wings at both sides, each holding a trio of mirrors, remain empty as of now.

The wings have been unfolded from the stowed-for-launch configuration to the “deployed” configuration to carry out the mirror installation. They will be folded back over into launch configuration for eventual placement inside the payload fairing of the Ariane V ECA booster rocket that will launch JWST.

Each of the 18 hexagonal-shaped primary mirror segments measures just over 4.2 feet (1.3 meters) across and weighs approximately 88 pounds (40 kilograms).

In space, the individual mirrors will unfold into several sections and work together as one large 21.3-foot (6.5-meter) mirror, unprecedented in size and light gathering capability.

To complete the entire mirror installation process onto the backplane assembly will take several months and continue into early 2016, Irish told Universe Today.

The flight structure and backplane assembly serve as the $8.6 Billion Webb telescopes backbone.

The telescope will launch from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana in 2018.

The telescopes primary and secondary flight mirrors had previously arrived at Goddard and the teams had practiced the installation using flight spares and engineering units.

“The years of planning and practicing is really paying dividends and the progress is really rewarding for everyone to see,” said NASA’s Optical Telescope Element Manager Lee Feinberg, in a statement.

“This starts the final assembly phase of the telescope.”

The mirrors were built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., in Boulder, Colorado. Ball is the principal subcontractor to Northrop Grumman for the optical technology and lightweight mirror system. The installation of the mirrors onto the telescope structure is performed by Harris Corporation of Rochester, New York. Harris Corporation leads integration and testing for the telescope, according to NASA.

“Then next April 2016 we will install the ISIM science module inside the backplane structure,” Irish elaborated.

The Webb Telescope is a joint international collaborative project between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

JWST is the successor to NASA’s 25 year old Hubble Space Telescope.

Webb is designed to look at the first light of the Universe and will be able to peer back in time to when the first stars and first galaxies were forming.

“JWST has the capability to look back towards the very first objects that formed after the Big Bang,” Mather told Universe Today.

NASA has overall responsibility and Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for JWST.
Watch for more on JWST construction and mirror installation.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

The post James Webb Space Telescope Mirror Installation Reaches Halfway Point appeared first on Universe Today.

James Webb Space Telescope Mirror Installation Reaches Halfway Point

This rare overhead shot of the James Webb Space Telescope shows the nine primary flight mirrors installed on the telescope structure in a clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.  Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Gunn

As history closes in on 2015, assembly of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reached a historic milestone as the installation of the primary mirrors onto the telescope structure reached the halfway point to completion and marks the final assembly phase of the colossal observatory.

Technicians have just installed the ninth of 18 primary flight mirrors onto the mirror holding backplane structure at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The team is using a robotic arm to carefully but diligently attach each mirror to the structure of the colossal observatory that will eventually become the most powerful telescope ever sent to space.

“This fall we start installing every mirror,” said Sandra Irish, JWST lead structural engineer during a recent interview with Universe Today at the NASA Goddard clean room facility.

The painstaking assembly work to piece the mirrors together began when the first unit was successfully installed onto the central segment just before the Thanksgiving 2015 holiday.

Working inside the massive clean room at NASA Goddard dedicated to the task, the engineering team manipulates the huge robotic arm to precisely lift and lower each gold coated mirror into place onto the observatory’s critical mirror holding backplane assembly.

“We are in good shape with the James Webb Space Telescope,” said Dr. John Mather, NASA’s Nobel Prize Winning scientist, in a recent exclusive interview with Universe Today at NASA Goddard.

The actual flight mirror backplane is comprised of three segments – the main central segment and a pair of outer wing-like segments holding three mirrors each.

One by one the team has first been populating the 12 unit central segment of the telescope structure with the primary mirrors at a pace of roughly two per week since the installations started some five weeks ago.

The pair of foldable side mounted wings at both sides, each holding a trio of mirrors, remain empty as of now.

The wings have been unfolded from the stowed-for-launch configuration to the “deployed” configuration to carry out the mirror installation. They will be folded back over into launch configuration for eventual placement inside the payload fairing of the Ariane V ECA booster rocket that will launch JWST.

Each of the 18 hexagonal-shaped primary mirror segments measures just over 4.2 feet (1.3 meters) across and weighs approximately 88 pounds (40 kilograms).

In space, the individual mirrors will unfold into several sections and work together as one large 21.3-foot (6.5-meter) mirror, unprecedented in size and light gathering capability.

To complete the entire mirror installation process onto the backplane assembly will take several months and continue into early 2016, Irish told Universe Today.

The flight structure and backplane assembly serve as the $8.6 Billion Webb telescopes backbone.

The telescope will launch from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana in 2018.

The telescopes primary and secondary flight mirrors had previously arrived at Goddard and the teams had practiced the installation using flight spares and engineering units.

“The years of planning and practicing is really paying dividends and the progress is really rewarding for everyone to see,” said NASA’s Optical Telescope Element Manager Lee Feinberg, in a statement.

“This starts the final assembly phase of the telescope.”

The mirrors were built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., in Boulder, Colorado. Ball is the principal subcontractor to Northrop Grumman for the optical technology and lightweight mirror system. The installation of the mirrors onto the telescope structure is performed by Harris Corporation of Rochester, New York. Harris Corporation leads integration and testing for the telescope, according to NASA.

“Then next April 2016 we will install the ISIM science module inside the backplane structure,” Irish elaborated.

The Webb Telescope is a joint international collaborative project between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

JWST is the successor to NASA’s 25 year old Hubble Space Telescope.

Webb is designed to look at the first light of the Universe and will be able to peer back in time to when the first stars and first galaxies were forming.

“JWST has the capability to look back towards the very first objects that formed after the Big Bang,” Mather told Universe Today.

NASA has overall responsibility and Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for JWST.
Watch for more on JWST construction and mirror installation.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

The post James Webb Space Telescope Mirror Installation Reaches Halfway Point appeared first on Universe Today.