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Astronomie - NASA Webb Telescope bekommt seine Gestalt - Update1

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17.03.2013

Technicians complete the primary mirror backplane support structure wing assemblies for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope at ATK's Space Components facility in Magna, Utah. ATK recently completed the fabrication of the primary mirror backplane support structure wing assemblies for prime contractor Northrop Grumman on the Webb telescope.
Credit: Northrop Grumman/ATK

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This is another milestone that helps move Webb closer to its launch date in 2018," said Geoff Yoder, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope program director, NASA Headquarters, Washington.

Designed, built and set to be tested by ATK at its facilities in Magna, Utah, the wing assemblies are extremely complex, with 900 separate parts made of lightweight graphite composite materials using advanced fabrication techniques. ATK assembled the wing assemblies like a puzzle with absolute precision. ATK and teammate Northrop Grumman of Redondo Beach, Calif., completed the fabrication.

"We will measure the accuracy down to nanometers -- it will be an incredible engineering and manufacturing challenge," said Bob Hellekson, ATK's Webb Telescope program manager. "With all the new technologies that have been developed during this program, the Webb telescope has helped advance a whole new generation of highly skilled ATK engineers, scientists and craftsmen while helping the team create a revolutionary telescope."When fully assembled, the primary mirror backplane support structure will measure about 24 feet by 21 feet and weigh more than 2,000 pounds. The backplane must be very stable, both structurally and thermally, so it does not introduce changes in the primary mirror shape, and holds the instruments in a precise position with respect to the telescope. While the telescope is operating at a range of extremely cold temperatures, from minus 406 to minus 360 degrees Fahrenheit, the backplane must not vary more than 38 nanometers (about one one-thousandth the diameter of a human hair). The thermal stability requirements for the backplane are unprecedented.

"Our ATK teammates demonstrated the thermal stability on test articles before building the wing assemblies with the same design, analysis, and manufacturing techniques. One of the test articles ATK built and tested is actually larger than a wing," said Charlie Atkinson, deputy Webb Optical Telescope Element manager for Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, Calif. "The mirrors are attached to the wings, as well as the rest of the backplane support structure, so the alignment is critical. If the wings distort, then the mirror distorts, and the images formed by the telescope would be distorted."

The James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built and 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.

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James Webb Telescope Model at South by Southwest

As big as a tennis court and as tall as a four-story building, a full-scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope model was on display from March 8-10 at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to Hubble and the largest space telescope to ever be built.

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Quelle: NASA

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Update: 16,06.2013

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NASA's Webb Telescope's Last Backbone Component Completed

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Assembly of the backbone of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, the primary mirror backplane support structure, is a step closer to completion with the recent addition of the backplane support frame, a fixture that will be used to connect all the pieces of the telescope together.

The backplane support frame will bring together Webb's center section and wings, secondary mirror support structure, aft optics system and integrated science instrument module. ATK of Magna, Utah, finished fabrication under the direction of the observatory's builder, Northrop Grumman Corp.

The backplane support frame also will keep the light path aligned inside the telescope during science observations. Measuring 11.5 feet by 9.1 feet by 23.6 feet and weighing 1,102 pounds, it is the final segment needed to complete the primary mirror backplane support structure. This structure will support the observatory's weight during its launch from Earth and hold its 18-piece, 21-foot-diameter primary mirror nearly motionless while Webb peers into deep space.

ATK has begun final integration of the backplane support frame to the backplane center section, which it completed in April 2012 and two backplane wing assemblies, which it completed in March.

"Fabricating and assembling the backplane support frame of this size and stability is a significant technological step as it is one of the largest cryogenic composite structures ever built," said Lee Feinberg, James Webb Space Telescope optical telescope element manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The frame, which was built at room temperature but must operate at temperatures ranging from minus 406 degrees to minus 343 degrees Fahrenheit, will undergo extremely cold, or cryogenic, thermal testing at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The backplane support frame and primary mirror backplane support structure will shrink as they cool down in space. The tests, exceeding the low temperatures the telescope's backbone will experience in space, are to verify the components will be the right size and operate correctly in space.

The primary mirror backplane support structure consists of more than 10,000 parts, all designed, engineered and built by ATK. The support structure will measure about 24 feet tall, 19.5 feet wide and more than 11 feet deep when fully deployed, but weigh only 2,138 pounds with the wing assemblies, center section and backplane support frame attached. When the mission payload and instruments are installed, the fully populated support structure will support more than 7,300 pounds, more than three times its own weight.

The primary mirror backplane support structure also will meet unprecedented thermal stability requirements to minimize heat distortion. While the telescope is operating at a range of extremely cold temperatures, from minus 406 degrees to minus 343 degrees Fahrenheit, the backplane must not vary more than 38 nanometers (approximately 1 one-thousandth the diameter of a human hair).

The primary backplane support structure is made of lightweight graphite materials using and advanced fabrication techniques. The composite parts are connected with precision metallic fittings made of invar and titanium.

"The ATK team is providing program hardware that is arguably the largest and most advanced cryogenic structure ever built," said Bob Hellekson, ATK's Webb telescope program manager.

The assembled primary backplane support structure and backplane support frame are scheduled for delivery to Marshall later this year for the extreme cryogenic thermal testing. They will undergo structural static testing at Northrop Grumman's facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif., in early 2014, and then be combined with the wing assemblies.

The James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. It 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.

Technicians complete the center section of the backplane and backplane support frame for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope at ATK’s facility in Magna, Utah. Photo Credit: ATK

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Quelle: NASA    

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Update: 1.09.2013

 

 

ATK liefert Rückgrat des NASA JWST

 

 

ATK (ATK) has shipped the primary mirror backplane support structure (PMBSS) for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope to Marshall Space Flight Center, completing an important milestone for the most powerful space telescope ever to be built.

 

The highly engineered PMBSS is the backbone of the telescope, supporting the telescope's beryllium mirrors, instruments and other elements. It also holds the 18-segment, 21-foot-diameter primary mirror nearly motionless while the telescope is peering into deep space. ATK built the PMBSS on time and within budget at its facility in Magna, Utah, under a contract with prime contractor Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC).

 

"With this shipment, ATK has fulfilled a critical milestone for the program," said Scott Texter, Webb Optical Telescope Element manager for Northrop Grumman.

 

Measuring approximately 24 ft. tall by 19.5 ft. wide by more than 11 ft. deep when fully deployed, and weighing only 2,180 lbs., the PMBSS supports the mission payload and instruments weighing more than three times its own weight. The folding design of the PMBSS enables the telescope to fit inside the 15-foot-diameter fairing of the launch vehicle.

 

ATK designed, engineered and constructed more than 10,000 parts of the PMBSS using lightweight graphite materials, state-of-the-art material sciences and advanced fabrication techniques. The composite parts attach in many cases to precision metallic fittings, made of precision materials such as invar and titanium that provide interfaces with other elements of the observatory.

 

"ATK has enjoyed teaming with NASA and Northrop Grumman on the Webb Telescope program," said David Shanahan, vice president and general manager of ATK's Space Components division. "We are proud to know that the technologies and inventions we developed to enable this NASA flagship mission will benefit science and engineering for generations to come."

 

The PMBSS will also meet unprecedented thermal stability requirements to minimize thermal distortion. While the telescope is operating at a range of extremely cold temperatures, from -406 to -343 degrees Fahrenheit, the backplane must not vary more than 38 nanometers (approximately 1/1,000th the diameter of a human hair). For reference, if the mirror were enlarged to span from Los Angeles to New York City, the tolerance for error would be less than 1 inch.

 

Upon arrival at Marshall Space Flight Center, the PMBSS will undergo extreme cryogenic thermal testing. The PMBSS will then undergo structural static testing at Northrop Grumman's facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif., in early 2014 before NASA and Northrop Grumman ready the observatory for its 2018 launch.

 

The James Webb Space Telescope is the world's next-generation space observatory and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. A joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, 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. 
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The James Webb Space Telescope's backplane element arrives at the Marshall Center.
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A major piece of the James Webb Space Telescope, the mirror's primary backplane support, arrived Aug. 22 at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., for testing in the X-ray and Cryogenic Test Facility. The backplane is the backbone of the telescope, supporting its 18 beryllium mirrors, instruments and other elements while the telescope is looking into deep space.
The Webb Telescope is the world's next-generation space observatory and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.
To prepare the telescope for the extreme temperatures of space, engineers at the facility have carefully examined the telescope’s mirrors inside a vacuum chamber that simulates the hypercold of space, chilling the hardware from room temperature down to a frigid minus 414 degrees Fahrenheit. The backplane is the latest and final piece of the telescope to undergo this extreme conditioning at the Marshall Center.
The X-ray and Cryogenic Facility at the Marshall Center is the world’s largest X-ray telescope test facility and offers a unique, cryogenic, clean-room optical test environment. Cryogenic testing will take place in a 7,600-cubic-foot, helium-cooled vacuum chamber, chilling the Webb support structure from room temperature to simulate the frigid atmosphere of space. While the structure changes temperature, test engineers will precisely measure its structural stability to ensure it will perform as designed in the extreme temperatures of space.
The cryogenic testing is targeted to begin in September.
"This testing of the backplane will verify limited movement of the structure when exposed to cryogenic temperatures," said Helen Cole, project manager for Webb Telescope mirror activities at the test facility. "This is important to overall performance of the telescope."
"Ensuring the best performance for the telescope requires evaluating the hardware at temperatures just as cold as in the environs of space," said Jeff Kegley, the test facility’s manager. "This is the last in a series of Webb Telescope tests our facility has been performing since 2008; it's great to have the hardware here."
A joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, 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. ATK built the backplane structure at its facility in Magna, Utah, under a contract with prime contractor Northrop Grumman.
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Crews unload the James Webb Space Telescope's "backplane," which was flown aboard a Lockheed C-5 airplane to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
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Quelle: NASA

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Update: 6.09.2013 

 

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ESA COMPLETES SECOND INSTRUMENT FOR JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE

ESA has completed the Near-Infrared Spectrograph, one of two instruments it is contributing to the international James Webb Space Telescope, a space observatory set for launch on an Ariane 5 rocket in 2018.
The James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST, is being built in a partnership between ESA, NASA and the Canadian Space Agency as the successor to the hugely successful Hubble space telescope.
It will boast a segmented primary mirror spanning a total of 6.5 m in diameter, making it the largest astronomical telescope in space. This mirror will feed light to four state-of-the art science instruments, including the Near-Infrared Spectrograph, or NIRSpec, which has been built for ESA by Astrium GmbH in Germany.
NIRSpec is designed to detect the light from the first stars and galaxies that formed in the young Universe, roughly 400 million years after the Big Bang, a time when conditions were very different to today, some 13.8 billion years later.
It will split the infrared light from these objects into its colour components – a spectrum – providing scientists with vital information on their chemical composition, dynamical properties, age and distance. NIRSpec will be able to observe up to 100 such objects simultaneously.
A very versatile instrument, NIRSpec will also be used to study the early phases of stellar birth across our Milky Way galaxy, and to analyse the atmospheric properties of planets in orbit around other stars, assessing the potential for life on worlds elsewhere in the Universe.
“The formal handover of NIRSpec from Astrium to ESA marks an important and exciting milestone in Europe’s contribution to the JWST mission,” said Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science and Robotic Exploration, speaking at a ceremony held today at Astrium GmbH in Ottobrunn, Germany.
“Along with the delivery of the Mid-Infrared camera and spectrograph (MIRI) to NASA last year, we are thrilled that European engineers and scientists are playing a key role in this important international mission.”
Having undergone rigorous testing in Europe, NIRSpec will be shipped to NASA later this month for integration into JWST’s instrument module, followed by further testing and calibration as the whole observatory is built up.
“We are delighted to acknowledge the completion of ESA’s NIRSpec and excited to have it join the other Webb science instruments at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center,” said Eric Smith, NASA’s Acting Program Director for JWST.
Once completed, JWST is scheduled for launch in 2018 on Ariane 5 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. It will then be positioned 1.5 million kilometres beyond Earth’s orbit around the Sun, around the gravitationally stable point known as L2. There, the observatory and instruments will cool behind a giant sunshield to temperatures below –233°C and carry out scientific observations for up to 10 years.
“NIRSpec's completion takes us one step closer to fulfilling JWST’s science goals and answering outstanding questions in astrophysics, such as how the first galaxies and stars formed and evolved,” says Peter Jensen, ESA’s JWST Project Manager.

The Near InfraRed Spectrograph (NIRSpec) is one of four instruments on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). NIRSpec is a multi-object spectrograph capable of observing more than 100 astronomical objects simultaneously in a large field of view of ~ 3 arcminutes × 3 arcminutes. It will support JWST's four main science themes by providing low (R~100), medium (R~1000), and high-resolution (R~2700) spectroscopic observations.
NIRSpec measures 1.9m × 1.3m × 0.7 m and weighs approximately 200 kg. It is an all-reflective system with a total of 14 mirrors, seven interchangeable dispersive elements and eight interchangeable filters.
The black dome and horn-shaped assembly in the centre foreground is the calibration assembly. This will be used for on-orbit calibration and monitoring the performance of the instrument.
To the left, with one silver- and three gold-coloured squares arranged around a cylinder, is the grating wheel.
The filter wheel can just be seen at the centre, towards the back of the shot, with two of the eight interchangeable filters showing.
The camera, which focuses the light beam onto the focal plane assembly (not visible), is in the large silver box at the back left of the shot.
NIRSpec is developed by ESA with EADS Astrium Germany GmbH as the prime contractor.
Quelle: ESA

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Update: 19.09.2013

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Webb Telescope Test: Insulating from Heat and Cold
In this photo, Ed Shade, an Engineer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. is putting final touches on thermal blankets in a vacuum chamber called the Space Environment Simulator, or SES that is being used to test components of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope.
Shade is laying blanketing on the wires on the floor to keep the heat they create from contaminating the other parts of the testbed. Those blankets are made of aluminized kapton, a polymer film that remains stable over a wide range of temperatures.  Just as blankets insulate people from cold, these golden-colored thermal blankets help prevent heat from seeping into the vacuum chamber that will drop temperatures to mimic those of deep space.
Blankets are also wrapped around pieces of equipment to protect them when they go into the SES. Components of the Webb will ultimately experience the cold of space in their operational orbit over 1 million miles from Earth and are tested in a deep freeze to ensure they will function properly.
The cables and cords seen in the photo are actually ground support equipment that include the Optical Telescope Simulator (OSIM), for the James Webb Space Telescope. The cables and cords are part of the thermal controls and monitoring that will go on 24 hours a day for the next three months. The entire structure is monitored for thermal fluctuations.
The most powerful space telescope ever built, Webb is the successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Webb's four instruments will reveal how the universe evolved from the Big Bang to the formation of our solar system. Webb is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.
Quelle: NASA

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Sunshield for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Ready for Manufacturing

 

Technicians at Northrop Grumman's Space Park facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif., are conducting tests to ensure the Webb Telescope's sunshield membrane layers meet flight performance requirements.

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The James Webb Space Telescope will be pointed so that the Sun, Earth and Moon are always on one side, and the sunshield will act like a parasol, keeping the optics and science instruments cool by keeping them in the shade and protecting them from the heat of the sun and warm spacecraft electronics. The sunshield will allow the telescope to cool down to a temperature below 50 Kelvin (equal to -370 degree F, or -223 degree C) by passively radiating its heat into space.

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. – Sept. 19, 2013 – NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is dominated visually by the tennis-court sized sunshield, which separates the observatory into a warm sun-facing side and a cold anti-sun side. Each of the five sunshield layers helps to protect the telescope optics — or mirrors — from the sun's heat. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and teammate NeXolve Corporation, a subsidiary of ManTech International Corporation (Nasdaq:MANT) based in Huntsville, Ala., completed the manufacturing of all template layers for the Webb Telescope sunshield.
The template layers are the last step before manufacturing the final flight sunshield layers. After successful completion of a manufacturing readiness review, the team is now ready to produce the final flight layers. Northrop Grumman is under contract to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., for the design and development of the Webb Telescope's optics, sunshield and spacecraft. NeXolve is subcontractor to Northrop Grumman to manufacture the one-of-a-kind sunshield membranes.
The sunshield template layers have the same design and manufacturing processes as the final flight layers. Each layer has been individually shape-tested to verify that they were built to requirements. As all five template layers are being subsequently tested at Northrop Grumman's Space Park facilities to ensure the membranes meet flight performance requirements, NeXolve is beginning manufacturing of the final flight layers. Technicians at Northrop Grumman are also practicing folding and unfolding the five layers by hand on a test bed.
"We try to do things early on to eliminate risk. We want to avoid changes to the schedule and design modifications later in the process, so these tests and processes are critical and give us confidence that we can execute on the final flight layers," said Jim Flynn, Webb sunshield manager, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "We have to take a step back and remember that this has never been done before, so we need to build confidence that what we're innovating and designing will work."
The Webb Telescope will primarily observe infrared light from faint and very distant objects. In order to detect infrared light, the optics have to be cold; thus, the sunshield passively cools the telescope to a temperature of -375 degrees F, preventing the observatory's own heat from "blinding" its infrared sensing instruments. The sunshield membrane layers, each as thin as a human hair, are made of Kapton®, a tough, high-performance plastic coated with a reflective metal. On-orbit, the observatory will be pointed so that the sun, Earth and moon are always on one side, with the sunshield acting as an umbrella to shade the telescope mirrors and instruments from the warmer spacecraft electronics and the sun.
"Completion of manufacturing and shape testing of all five template layers is a major accomplishment for the sunshield team," said Greg Laue, NeXolve's sunshield program manager. "The shape performance of the sunshield has matched our predictions and met initial objectives for the system. Additionally the template layers incorporated flight-like features and manufacturing processes so conclusion of all template manufacturing represents a major milestone that has validated the flight manufacturing techniques and manufacturing precision."
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.
Quelle: Northrop-Grumman

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Update: 22.11.2013 

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Sending equipment into deep space requires an incredibly detailed and lengthy process of design, construction and testing. NASA must know, for example, that the James Webb Space Telescope it is spending billions to build and launch in 2018 won't bend, warp or freeze up in the super cold of deep space.
How do you test that? You use rare facilities like the X-Ray & Cryogenic Facility at Huntsville's Marshall Space Flight Center. It's a huge chamber where objects the size of helicopters can be subjected to prolonged exposure to temperatures as cold as minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Parts of the world's next great telescope spent a good part of the last few years in Marshall's deep freezer to see how they will behave in space. Take a look and see how it went.
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Quelle: All Alabama

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Update: 16.12.2013 

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Spotlight on Webb Telescope Test
Dressed in a clean room suit, NASA photographer Desiree Stover shines a light on the Space Environment Simulator's Integration Frame inside the thermal vacuum chamber at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Shortly after, the chamber was closed up and engineers used this frame to enclose and help cryogenic (cold) test the heart of the James Webb Space Telescope, the Integrated Science Instrument Module.
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Mary interviewed John Cranston, the sunshield process engineer at Mantech's NeXolve Corporation who described Kapton, the raw material that creates the sunshield. NeXolve is a subsidiary of ManTech International Corporation and completed the manufacturing of all template layers for the Webb Telescope sunshield.
Cranston showed viewers Kapton and explained how the aluminum and silicon coatings that are applied to some sunshield layers work.
Each of the five layers consists of at least 55 individual pieces or "gores" of Kapton bonded together, and each layer is shaped slightly differently. The first layer faces the sun and will be the hottest, while the fifth layer faces the telescope and instruments and will be the coolest.
Bonding the extremely thin gores of the sunshield together to achieve precise shapes is vital to the sunshield's performance and was a significant engineering challenge. Engineers couldn't use glue because it would add too much mass.
In the video, Mary takes viewers to see where the individual pieces will be seamed together by a thermal welding technique on what is called the "spot bonding machine." The machine applies just the right amount of heat to the material in small spots to fuse it together but not so much that it burns through.
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Quelle: NASA

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Update: 19.12.2013

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Final James Webb Space Telescope Mirrors Arrive at NASA
Dec. 18, 2013

The final three of 18 primary mirrors for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope arrived at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., for integration prior to a scheduled launch in 2018.

Once on orbit, the 18 hexagonal mirror segments will work together as one 21.3-foot (6.5-meter) primary mirror, the largest mirror ever flown in space and the first to deploy in space.

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The last three of the 18 flight primary mirror segments arrived at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., on Dec. 16, 2013. After traveling across the country, the mirrors were prepped to enter a Goddard clean room for inspections.
Image Credit: 
NASA Goddard/Chris Gunn
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"Having the final mirror segments at Goddard is an exciting program milestone. It's the culmination of more than a decade of advanced optics manufacturing and testing work by teams of extremely dedicated engineers, technicians and scientists," said Eric Smith, NASA's acting Webb telescope director in Washington. "These mirrors are ready to meet up with the structure that will hold them incredibly stable, forming Webb's 6.5-meter-diameter primary mirror -- the largest space telescope ever built."

The mirrors were built by Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation, Boulder, Colo. Ball is the principal subcontractor to Northrop Grumman for the optical technology and lightweight mirror system. Ball Aerospace also developed the secondary mirror, tertiary mirror and fine-steering mirror.

 

"Ball's sophisticated mirror architecture will provide James Webb with the most advanced infrared vision of any space observatory ever launched by NASA," said Robert Strain, Ball Aerospace president. "A huge amount of teamwork was needed to meet the exacting requirements for the telescope's optical design and we're eager to see the results."

Ball began an incremental process of shipping the finished mirrors to Goddard in September 2012. The mirrors are housed in custom shipping containers designed specifically for the multiple cross-country trips the mirrors made through eight U.S. states during manufacturing. Each container is hermetically sealed to handle atmospheric pressure changes caused by shipping from high elevations such as Boulder to locations at or near sea level such as Greenbelt.

The premier observatory for the next decade, the Webb telescope will be stationed 1 million miles (1.5 million km) from Earth – some four times farther away from us than the moon. Webb will be the most powerful space telescope ever built, able to detect the light from the first galaxies ever formed and explore planets around distant stars.  It will study every phase of our universe's history, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of stellar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own solar system.

The Webb telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 25.01.2014

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James Webb Space Telescope Passes a Mission Milestone

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NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has passed its first significant mission milestone for 2014 -- a Spacecraft Critical Design Review (SCDR) that examined the telescope's power, communications and pointing control systems.

"This is the last major element-level critical design review of the program," said Richard Lynch, NASA Spacecraft Bus Manager for the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "What that means is all of the designs are complete for the Webb and there are no major designs left to do."

During the SCDR, the details, designs, construction and testing plans, and the spacecraft's operating procedures were subjected to rigorous review by an independent panel of experts. The week-long review involved extensive discussions on all aspects of the spacecraft to ensure the plans to finish construction would result in a vehicle that enables the powerful telescope and science instruments to deliver their unique and invaluable views of the universe.

"While the spacecraft that carries the science payload for Webb may not be as glamorous as the telescope, it's the heart that enables the whole mission," said Eric Smith, acting program director and program scientist for the Webb Telescope at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "By providing many services including telescope pointing and communication with Earth, the spacecraft is our high tech infrastructure empowering scientific discovery."

Goddard Space Flight Center manages the mission. Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, Calif., leads the design and development effort.

"Our Northrop Grumman team has worked exceptionally hard to meet this critical milestone on an accelerated schedule, following the replan," said Scott Willoughby, Northrop Grumman vice president and James Webb Space Telescope program manager in Redondo Beach, Calif. "This is a huge step forward in our progress toward completion of the Webb Telescope."

The James Webb Space Telescope, successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. It 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.

Quelle: NASA

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Northrop Grumman Team Successfully Completes Spacecraft Critical Design Review for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope

REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Jan. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC) successfully passed the last significant mission design milestone for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, the spacecraft Critical Design Review (CDR), five months ahead of schedule, following the replan. The spacecraft provides the power and communications for the whole observatory and is responsible for pointing the telescope and image stabilization. Northrop Grumman is under contract to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., for the design and development of the Webb Telescope's optics, sunshield and spacecraft.

An independent panel of experts conducted a rigorous, weeklong review of the detailed design, construction and testing plans, and flight software for the Webb Telescope's spacecraft. The CDR included extensive discussions on all aspects of the spacecraft to ensure construction of a vehicle that will enable the powerful telescope and science instruments to deliver astonishing views of the universe. The team successfully completed more than 76 preceding reviews on the spacecraft subsystems to prepare for this CDR.

"Our Northrop Grumman team did an incredibly thorough job preparing for this design review and demonstrated impressive knowledge of Webb's subsystems," said Andy Cohen, Webb spacecraft manager, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "I am exceptionally proud of how hard this team worked to meet this important mission milestone on an accelerated schedule."

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is made up of three major components — the telescope, the tennis-court sized sunshield, and the spacecraft. The sunshield separates the observatory into a warm sun-facing side and a cold anti-sun side to protect the telescope optics — or mirrors — from the sun and Earth's heat. The warm side below the sunshield is the spacecraft side. The spacecraft provides power, pointing capability and fuel for station keeping. 

The completed mirrors arrived at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in December 2013, and production of the final flight sunshield layers is currently underway. The spacecraft CDR was the last major design to complete, marking significant progress toward completion of the Webb Telescope. Following this successful review, manufacturing of the various parts that make up the spacecraft such as the fuel tanks, gryoscopes and solar panels will continue.

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.

Quelle: Northrop Grumman

Update: 5.02.2014

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Reflecting on Webb's Progress

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As the James Webb Space Telescope scientists and engineers continue to move forward with the observatory's pre-launch testing and assembly, the NASA community is excited to see the outstanding work accomplished so far.

 

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., held an employee event on Feb. 3, 2014, to share this progress. The main auditorium filled to capacity with NASA employees, as well as top officials from Northrop Grumman, Ball Aerospace & Technologies, the Space Telescope Science Institute, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, the Canadian Space Agency and others to hear the strides the Webb team has made.
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NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, of Maryland, visited NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., on Feb. 3, 2014, to discuss the status of the James Webb Space Telescope, the agency's flagship science project.
Image Credit: NASA
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Goddard Center Director Chris Scolese welcomed everyone and acknowledged that, "Without their leadership, we wouldn’t be here today," he said. "They have taken Webb from the beginning to the really great state it is in today."
The two other esteemed guests who joined Scolese on stage were NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland. Bolden shared his excitement and admiration for the scientists and engineers working hard to keep Webb on-budget and on-target for the much-anticipated launch date, scheduled for no earlier than 2018.
"The recent completion of the critical design review for Webb, and the delivery of all its instruments to Goddard, mark significant progress for this mission," Bolden said.
Mikulski, a long-time NASA supporter, said she was proud and happy to see how far NASA has come with the telescope. In her role, Mikulski has helped secure funding for NASA so scientists and engineers can continue to push the envelope with their innovation and hard work. "My goal is to help you be you," she said. "May the force continue to be with you."
Guests also had the opportunity to see a live tour, through video feed, of the clean room that houses the hardware for Webb. They saw the 18 primary mirror segments that will soon be assembled on the Webb telescope. Paul Geithner, deputy project manager for Webb and tour guide explained the various parts of the telescope housed at Goddard.
Among the instruments was the University of Arizona's Near-Infrared Camera, which will be Webb's primary camera and collect images of some of the very first stars and galaxies that formed in our universe. Another instrument, European Space Agency’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph analyzes the composition of various astronomical objects. Next, Geithner showed the European Space Agency-provided Mid-Infrared Instrument. The instrument has both a camera and a spectrograph, which can see light in the mid-infrared, a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that the human eye can’t see. The last instrument shown on the tour was the Canadian Space Agency's Fine Guidance Sensor and Near-infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph. This will allow Webb to point as precisely as possible at its targets to obtain the highest-quality images possible. It will also provide another method for investigating both the distant universe and closer, recently discovered exoplanets.
These components, once assembled and launched will contribute to the Webb telescope's discovery of amazing things. "This is the promise of JWST," Geithner said.
Quelle: NASA

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Update: 9.04.2014 

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Webb Telescope's Heart Complete, Final Instrument Installed

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The last piece of the James Webb Space Telescope's heart was installed inside the world's largest clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
What looked like a massive black frame covered with wires and aluminum foil, the heart or Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) now contains all four of Webb's science instruments. Together, these instruments will help unlock the history of our universe, from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of stellar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own solar system.
Teams of engineers recently navigated very cramped spaces with delicate materials and finished surgically implanting the last of the four instruments that will fly on the Webb telescope – the Near-Infrared Spectrograph, or NIRSpec.
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In this photo, engineers install NIRSpec in the heart of Webb.
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Weighing about as much as an upright piano (about 430 pounds, or 196 kilograms), the NIRSpec was suspended from a moveable counterweight called the Horizontal Integration Tool, or HIT. From below, the engineering team was tasked with painstakingly moving this vital instrument to its final position inside the large black composite frame, officially called the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM).
As the team maneuvered this crucial instrument through very tight, hard to reach spaces inside the Webb telescope's heart, they ensured there was no unintentional contact with the frame because the instrument's materials are very stiff but brittle. Disturbing any of those materials could have caused major setbacks that could damage NIRSpec.
"Part of the challenge is that this instrument cannot be installed in a straight linear move. In order to avoid interference with already installed systems, the instrument will have to follow a special pattern kind of like a dance," said Maurice te Plate, the European Space Agency's (ESA) Webb system integration and test manager at Goddard. "During the crucial phases of the installation, the room is kept very silent because whenever there is a potential issue one of the engineers must hold the process until everything is checked out so they can proceed."
Engineers needed NIRSpec's six individual feet or legs to align with six designated "saddle" points on the ISIM within the width of a little more than that of a human hair. To hit their marks, these engineers had rehearsed these complicated movements, performing simulations and precise calculations on both sides of the ocean.
As they moved the instrument into position they also slowly transferred its weight off of the HIT to bolt it into place. Securing NIRSpec inside the heart was a major mission milestone, and was the first real physical contact between NIRSpec and the ISIM. Teams from ESA, NASA, and Airbus Defence and Space, in Ottobrunn, Germany, have been working on this instrument for more than 10 years.
"NIRSpec is a multi-object spectrograph, which means it will be capable of observing 100 objects in the cosmos simultaneously. For each of these objects the captured light will be unraveled into a spectrum," te Plate said.
By sending light from each distant object through an optical device like a prism, NIRSpec reveals the light in all its colors.
"Each type of atom or molecule that the object is composed of leaves a unique imprint on its spectrum in the form of spectral lines. These lines are like unique fingerprints for that particular atom or molecule," said te Plate.
From a spectrum, scientists can obtain a wealth of information about a distant object, like its chemical composition, mass, distance, velocity and temperature.
NIRSpec was provided by the European Space Agency and built by Airbus Defence and Space in Germany. The Focal Plane Assembly and the crucial Micro Shutter Array, which allows the object selection, were developed by Goddard.
This accomplishment comes right after engineers finished installing another essential part of the Webb- the Near Infrared Camera into the center of the heart of the telescope.
NIRCam is a unique machine because in addition to being one of the four science instruments on the Webb, it also serves as the wavefront sensor, which means it will provide vital information for shaping the telescope mirrors and aligning its optics so that they can function properly and see into the distant universe. The NIRCam instrument will operate at very cold temperatures, and will be tested to ensure that it will be able to withstand the environment of space.
The NIRCam is Webb's primary imager that will cover the infrared wavelength range 0.6 to 5 microns. It will detect light from the earliest stars and galaxies in the process of formation, the population of stars in nearby galaxies, as well as young stars and exoplanets in the Milky Way. NIRCam is provided by the University of Arizona and Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center.
Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built.
Quelle: NASA

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Update: 31.05.2014

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The Webb of a Thermal Cage

What appears to be a golden cage being lowered over a complex piece of technology is actually equipment that will simulate an environment in space to ensure the science instruments of the James Webb Space Telescope can withstand the harsh conditions.

The golden cage is actually the Surrogate Thermal Management System (STMS), and it provides a simulation of the thermal environment expected during the mission. In the photo, the STMS frame is being lowered over Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) in preparation for a cryogenic test. The STMS will maintain the temperature balance as the ISIM is cooled to 40 kelvin (-233.1 C / -387.7 F) inside a vacuum chamber at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The ISIM is one of three major elements that comprise the Webb Observatory flight system. The ISIM is the heart of the James Webb Space Telescope, what engineers call the main payload. This is the unit that will house the four main instruments that will detect light from distant stars and galaxies, and planets orbiting other stars.

The cryogenic test will run until the fall of 2014.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built.

Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 17.06.2014 

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Das "Herz" von James Webb Space Telescope beginnt zu schlagen...

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Webb's Fully Integrated 'Heart' Lowered into the Chamber
Engineer Jack Marshall held his breath. The "heart" of the James Webb Space Telescope hung from a cable 30 feet in the air as it was lowered slowly into the massive thermal vacuum chamber at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
This "heart" of Webb is called the ISIM or Integrated Science Instrument Module, which along with its thermal vacuum test frame and supporting hardware, weighs about as much as an elephant. Within this test frame, ISIM sits inside a big-mirrored cube of cryo-panels and blankets. This process can be seen in a video by a Goddard videographer.
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James Webb Space Telescope's "heart" (formally the Integrated Science Instrument Module, or ISIM) exits a clean room and descends into a vacuum chamber at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
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"This is the first time we are able to test the ‘heart’ in this configuration, which includes all four of Webb's science instruments installed on ISIM," said Marshall.
This major milestone was reached on schedule, but before the thermal vacuum chamber can be put into use ISIM's cooling system must be checked out. This cooling system relies on using helium says team member Marc Sansebastian of NASA Goddard who is carefully checking for any leaks.
"Helium is a very hard gas to contain because it is such a small molecule," said Sansebastian.
Once the Webb team is assured that all of the cooling lines are helium tight and all electrical connections have been completed and tested, a four-months long test on ISIM will begin by pumping out all of the air, and then dropping temperatures in the chamber, down to simulate the exceptionally cold temperatures in space.
Goddard's massive thermal vacuum chamber, called the Space Environment Simulator, uses eight vacuum pumps to achieve a vacuum and plumbing with nitrogen and cold gaseous helium to reduce the temperature inside a helium shroud to as low as -423.6 F (-253.15 C or 20 kelvins). 
During this testing of ISIM, there are over 1,000 temperature sensors, almost 200 heater circuits, ten helium lines and a lot of thermal zones that need to be hooked up, says Calinda Yew, Webb test engineer for the thermal vacuum chamber.
"Now we are in the process of connecting all of those sensors and heaters. The sensors will help monitor temperatures during the test and the heaters will help achieve target temperatures. We will inject helium into a shroud to lower the science instruments temperatures even further," says Yew.
After four months of testing, the "heart" of Webb, ISIM, will return back to the world's largest clean room at Goddard for additional work and testing. Another thermal vacuum test of ISIM is scheduled in 2015.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built and 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.
Quelle: NASA

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Update: 9.07.2014

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Testing Completed on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Backplane

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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.
Image Credit: Northrop Grumman
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NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has reached another development milestone with the completion of static load testing of its primary mirror backplane support structure (PMBSS) moving the telescope one step closer to its 2018 launch.
The PMBSS 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 starlight will hit first.
"Static testing demonstrates 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," said Lee Feinberg, NASA’s Optical Telescope Element manager at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
The Northrop Grumman Corporation and ATK of Magna, Utah, completed the testing before delivering the structure to Northrop Grumman's facilities in Redondo Beach, California.
"This is the largest, most complex cryogenically stable structure humans have ever built," said Scott Texter, Optical Telescope Element manager for Northrop Grumman. "Completion of the static testing verifies it can hold the weight it is designed to hold. Now the structural backbone of the observatory is officially verified and ready for integration."
Despite its size and complexity, the PMBSS is one of the most lightweight precision-alignment truss structures ever designed and built. When fully deployed, it measures approximately 24 feet tall by 19.5 feet wide by more than 11.5 feet deep, and weighs only 2,180 pounds. Once fully assembled and populated, the PMBSS will support a mission payload and instruments that weigh more than 7,300 pounds. With a full launch load, it will support the equivalent of 12 times its own weight.
The PMBSS is designed 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, between -406 and -343 degrees Fahrenheit, the backplane must not move more than 38 nanometers, approximately 1/1,000 the diameter of a human hair.
Under contract from NASA, Northrop Grumman is the lead contractor for the design and development of the Webb telescope's optics, sunshield and spacecraft. ATK designed, engineered and constructed more than 10,000 parts for the PMBSS at its facilities in Magna. They used composite parts, lightweight graphite materials, state-of-the-art material sciences and advanced fabrication techniques to build the structure.
The next step for the space telescope is to integrate the composite structures with the deployment mechanisms to create the overall Optical Telescope Element (OTE) structure. The OTE structure will then be shipped to Goddard for integration with the mirrors. NASA and Northrop Grumman will perform cryogenic testing of the PMBSS structure after mirror integration is complete.
Quelle: NASA

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Update: 27.07.2014

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James Webb Space Telescope’s Giant Sunshield Test Unit Unfurled First Time
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The sunshield test unit on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is unfurled for the first time. Credit: NASA
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GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER, MD – The huge Sunshield test unit for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been successfully unfurled for the first time in a key milestone ahead of the launch scheduled for October 2018.
Engineers stacked and expanded the tennis-court sized Sunshie
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