The telescope element of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), built by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC – News), has successfully passed a critical design review verifying it will perform as designed, and now moves forward to final manufacturing steps and integration of all subsystems.
The Optical Telescope Element (OTE), which is the eye of the Observatory, includes a giant, 6.5-meter diameter (21.3 ft.) mirror, associated mirrors and support structures.
“Completion of this review is very significant because it provides validation that the telescope element design of the Observatory meets all performance requirements,” said Scott Willoughby, JWST Program Manager for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector.
“We can now finish building the optical telescope subsystems, integrate them and deliver the integrated OTE to integration and test for the entire Observatory.” Successful completion of the OTE review is also an important step leading up to the overall JWST mission review scheduled for March, 2010.
Northrop Grumman is the lead contractor for JWST and leads the telescope’s overall design and development effort under contract to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
Observatory manufacturing and testing have been making steady progress. The OTE’s subsystems that are in full production include the primary mirror segment assemblies, secondary mirror assemblies, and aft optical assembly, which contains the tertiary mirror and fine steering mirror.
The backbone of the telescope, which supports all of the telescope subsystems, is in the early stages of production.
The second batch of three lightweight Beryllium flight mirror segments is nearly finished with cryotesting in the X-ray and Cryogenic Facility at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The first batch of cryotested mirror segments has been sent to Tinsley Laboratories in Richmond, Calif., for polishing. A total of 18 flight mirror segments will undergo a series of cryotests and polishing.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the next-generation premier space observatory, exploring deep space phenomena from distant galaxies to nearby planets and stars. The Webb Telescope will give scientists clues about the formation of the universe and the evolution of our own solar system, from the first light after the Big Bang to the formation of star systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth.