Google+ SpaceTravelFoundation: Testing Completed on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Backplane

July 9, 2014

Testing Completed on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Backplane

Dear readers and followers,

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 James Webb Space Telescope is the world's next-generation space observatory and successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Designed to be the most powerful space telescope ever built, Webb 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, ESA  and the +Canadian Space Agency . 

Credit image: NASA 

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.

Lee Feinberg, NASA’s Optical Telescope Element manager at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, announced "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,"
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.

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.

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