Two of the three main pieces that make up the world’s next most powerful space telescope were just integrated into one massive, shiny, strange assemblage in Redondo Beach.
The custom-designed James Webb Space Telescope’s 72-foot-long sun shield was married this week to the self-propelling robotic “bus” that will carry it 1 million miles beyond Earth, according to officials from Northrop Grumman Corp.’s Space Park facility near the beach.
“This is a huge milestone for the Webb telescope as we prepare for launch,” said Jim Flynn, Webb sun shield manager for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “The groundbreaking, tennis-court size sun shield will protect the optics from heat, making it possible to gather images of the formation of stars and galaxies more than 13.5 billion years ago.”
The self-propelling robotic bus also holds Webb’s electronics, communications systems, thermal control devices and propulsion equipment.
When the scope’s 21-foot-tall, gold-plated mirror is connected later this year, the complete apparatus will go through months more testing before launch in October 2018.
Webb’s mission is to retrieve the first glimpses of the galaxies and star clusters that emerged from the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. It’s a nearly $9 billion joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency that is scheduled to blast off in October 2018 on an Ariane 5 heavy-lift launcher.
It will try to answer questions about how planets are born and, ultimately, how life emerged.
“Maybe on some deep level, we know that we’re connected to the universe. We know…
click here to read more.