James Webb Update – Golden Mirror Test

BlogNews

               As the James Webb telescope launch on Halloween this year fast approaches, the project continues to make strides toward that day. From past achievements such as folding up and packing the massive tennis court size sunshield to testing the shield itself, the exciting project has made tremendous progress. The most recent milestone was the completed final testing of the telescope’s gold mirror. The mirror is precisely 6.5 m wide, and its purpose will be to reflect light back from galaxies and stars for further study on Earth. This test marks the final time the gold mirror will be checked before it is packed up and shipped off to the launch site. The tests have been conducted by Northrop Grumman, the team that is helping build James Webb. The mirror itself must precisely fold into the launch rocket without error or any form of damage. It consists of two wings folded up in an ongoing simulation conducted over the next several days. The final part of the mirror will be folded. Beryllium makes up the primary mirror in the telescope that cost $10 billion. Webb will use the received infrared light to take readings of the stars and galaxies, allowing humanity to see inside galaxies like never before. Several projects hope to be a part of James Webb in the first year of its operation as astronauts from over 40 countries have allocated time on the telescope.

               Lenox Laser had the honor of being part of the project by designing precision alignment targets for its mid-infrared instrument (MIRI). Lenox Laser was even invited to see this process firsthand when they were created. Given all of James Webb’s technology, it was designed so that no human is needed for repairs. Although if desperately needed, a piloted crew could be sent to perform repairs and come home from a short mission. James Webb will be the new premier space telescope for US outer space study if all is successful. Lenox Laser wishes the very best to all involved and extends a heartfelt thank you for allowing us to be a part of this monumental moment in history.

Courtesy of NASA and ESA/Hubble

               If you would like to read more, click here to read an article about James Webb’s final tests by MSN.

James Webb Space Telescope Final Tests

BlogNews
Courtesy of NASA

               Since its creation in 1996, the James Webb telescope has been a monolithic-sized project in scope and scale. The telescopes’ purpose is in-depth investigations of stars and galaxies, not only studying them but going deep inside them and studying them. This could potentially help scientists map the stars and planets. Webb is expected to be the world’s premier space observatory. Once fully operational and tested, the telescope is expected to launch into space on October 31st of this year. James Webb has some last-minute functionality tests to complete but once done, it will be 100% ready for launch on Halloween.

The project has passed many tests and milestones in recent months and years that ensure prospects become a reality. In December 2020, completed environmental testing of its sunshield deployments, to replacing turntables in 2019, the James Webb telescope’s build was completed in 2016. Testing and adjustments have been ongoing ever since. Webb completed a fully functional crown test of all its instruments in August of last year. It is not yet known exactly where in space the telescope will be launched when it finally happens. It is the definitive predecessor to the Hubble telescope. With the coronavirus pandemic still ongoing, scientists and engineers are taking every precaution possible during final preparations for launch. So far, James Webb’s team has confirmed that the telescope is sound enough to survive the rigorous tensions of the upcoming launch the satellite will experience.

Lenox Laser is excited to see what the future holds for James Webb and what far reaches of space it will explore. We send our congratulations and best wishes to the entire team involved with the telescope. To see a detailed timeline of the telescope, please click here.

James Webb Sunshield Passes Final Tests

BlogNews

               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.