James Webb Telescope Test Update

The Nasa James Webb Space Telescope has completed another of its tests at Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Redondo Beach facility in California.The tests which were on the “spacecraft element” or SCE were to establish that the structural design, mechanics and integrity of the SCE were up to specification.  This was achieved during simulation by placing the SCE and the James Webb Telescope under the same conditions they will face during launch.  It proved that the James Webb can withstand the pressures of the launch such as the excessive decibel levels rockets produce when run up to full throttle, and the types of vibration it will go through that could disturb the delicate optics and instruments that make it up.  The last test the SCE will face will effect the simulation of thermal vacuum.  This will conclude the testing on the SCE, following this the James Webb telescope will then have its optics and science equipment fitted.

Nasa has said the James Webb telescope will be the leading observatory and space telescope for the decade following its launch into space in 2021.  The telescope has an ultra light weight 18 segment mirror that unfolds after launch, and also sensors and cameras that can detect and record very faint signals once in position.  Northrop Grumman Corporation are the main industrial partner to Nasa and have provided the test facilities for the SCE which includes its “clean room” for when its time to fit the delicate optics and instruments.





Aerospace & Aviation 2019

Image credit: NASA/Desiree Stover

Sources: Northrop Grumman Corporation and NASA