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Webb Optics Assembly Stand Is Complete

Photonics.com
Nov 2011
GREENBELT, Md., Nov. 18, 2012 — The giant structural steel frame on which the mirrors and instruments of the James Webb Space Telescope will be assembled at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is now complete.

“This milestone is important, as it marks the transition to the integration and testing phase for the Webb telescope’s optical telescope element,” said Lee Feinberg, who manages the optical assembly.

Successor to the Hubble space telescope, the Webb will observe the most distant objects in the universe, provide images of the very first galaxies ever formed, and study planets around distant stars.


The Webb telescope optical assembly stand. (Image: NASA/Maggie Masetti)

The purpose of the optical assembly is to cradle the entire 3.7-metric-ton optical telescope and to install 18 individual 90-pound mirror segments and other components onto the telescope structure with precision that is better than one-thousandth of an inch. The U-shaped assembly stand is 24 ft high, 52 ft wide and 41 ft long and weighs 139,000 pounds.

The stand’s installation was recently completed at Goddard by Northrop Grumman of Redondo Beach, Calif., and its teammate ITT Exelis of McLean, Va. The California company is leading the design and development effort for the telescope under contract to Goddard.

“Due to the excellent efforts of our teammate ITT Exelis, we have completed each of the major elements of equipment required to complete the assembly of the optical flight telescope,” said Scott Willoughby, Webb telescope vice president and program manager at Northrop Grumman.

“With the near completion of the final cryotest for the last six flight mirror segments, we are making great progress on the program.”

The platform has been installed in Goddard’s largest cleanroom, where Northrop Grumman and ITT will assemble the telescope in late 2014.

Cranetech Inc. of Arkport, N.Y., designed and built the track system suspended above the stand, and Progressive Machine and Design of Victor, N.Y., made the robotic arms attached to the track that install the mirror segments.

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

For more information, visit: jwst.nasa.gov  


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