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James Webb Space Telescope folded and stowed

Posted on 15 May 2020 and read 1933 times
James Webb Space Telescope folded and stowedNASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has been successfully folded and stowed into the same configuration it will have when loaded onto an Ariane 5 rocket for launch next year. For the telescope to fit into an Ariane V rocket, it must fold up and the graphic shows how Webb fits into the rocket fairing with little room to spare.

Webb is NASA’s largest and most complex space science telescope ever built. Too big for any rocket available in its fully expanded form, the entire observatory had to be designed to fold in on itself to achieve a much smaller configuration. Once in space, the observatory will unfold and expand out in a carefully practised series of steps before beginning to make ground-breaking observations of the universe.

Bill Ochs, Webb project manager for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said: “The James Webb Space Telescope achieved another significant milestone with the entire observatory in its launch configuration for the first time, in preparation for environmental testing. I am very proud of the entire Northrop Grumman and NASA integration and test team. This accomplishment demonstrates the outstanding dedication and diligence of the team in such trying times due to Covid-19.”

ArianeThe testing team is tasked with making sure every piece of hardware and software that comprise Webb will work not only individually, but as a full observatory. Now that Webb is completely assembled, technicians and engineers are able to command the entire spacecraft and carry out the various stages of movement and deployment it will perform when in space. By folding and stowing the spacecraft into the same configuration when it launches from French Guiana, the engineering team can confidently move forward with final environmental testing (acoustics and vibration). After completing the series of tests, Webb will be deployed one last time on Earth for testing prior to launch.

Gregory Robinson, NASA Webb programme director, said: “While operating under augmented personal safety measures because of Covid-19, the project continues to make good progress and achieve significant milestones in preparation for upcoming environmental testing. Team member safety continues to be our highest priority as the project takes precautions to protect Webb’s hardware and continue with integration and testing. NASA will continually assess the project’s schedule and adjust decisions as the situation evolves.”

The James Webb Space Telescope will be the world’s premier space science observatory when it launches in 2021. It will solve mysteries in the solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars and probe the mysterious structures and origins of the universe.

Webb is an international programme led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.

Pictures couresy of ArianeSpace.com