James Webb Sunshield Passes Final Tests

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               When completed, the famous James Webb telescope will be the world’s premier observatory for exploring galaxies. Webb will explore our galaxy’s makeup and beyond, studying inside stars and help map and explore undiscovered, uncharted areas of our solar system and universe.

However, the telescope’s most recent achievement is the final deployment test of its massive football-field-sized sunshield. It is designed to handle the harshest temperatures in space, enduring temperatures of -380°F to 85°F. The sunshield is intended to protect the telescope optics and internal mechanisms while keeping them cold while exploring galaxy and star readings properly.

Courtesy of NASA/Chris Gunn

               The sunshield’s successful unfolding completes Webb’s final tremendous milestone before the expected October 2021 launch. Altogether the telescope is costing NASA an estimated $10 billion, with potentially higher costs coming if any further delays happen. Not only will the sunshield protect Webb’s many internal optics from the sun’s heat, but it will also protect them from the light, which could help avoid potentially false readings upon exploration. Past tests included folding and unfolding the telescope’s many massively sized mirrors, tests of its optics, the sunshield tests, and interior and exterior components.

               The teams involved in creating James Webb were scientists from NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency. Partnerships were also formed with Northrop Grumman, who helped design some onboard computers and the telescope. Thus far, everyone is extremely pleased with the progress made, and they cannot wait to see the outcome of all the hard work done for the project. However, the James Webb project has faced many hurdles and delays in its continuous journey towards a successful launch. Some of those delays include government funding, the most recent Covid-19 pandemic, equipment malfunction, and multiple ongoing tests that were postponed. Barring any other unforeseen circumstances or uncertainties, the James Webb telescope mission is expected to launch Halloween 2021. 

Lenox Laser is proud of everyone involved in this undertaking. We cannot wait to see what the future holds for the project. If you would like to read more about this development with James Webb, please click here.