Northrop Grumman has deployed a sunshield subsystem and tensioned five sunshield layers for the NASA James Webb Space Telescope at the company’s highbay facilities in Redondo Beach, California.
The company said Thursday the sunshield subsystem will work to divide the JWST observatory into a warm sun-facing side and a cold space-facing side that features optics and other scientific instruments.
The sunshield subsystem will utilize structure and mechanisms needed to deploy a Northrop-manufactured five-layer subsystem along with five NeXolve-built membrane layers.
Scott Willoughby, vice president and program manager for the James Webb Space Telescope at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, said the sunshield aims to protect JWST optics from heat to collect images of the first stars and galaxies that formed approximately 13.5 billion years ago.
The sunshield layers which are made from Kapton will aim to reduce temperatures between the hot and cold sides of the telescope.
The company added it will also fold, stow and tension the flight membranes two more times for testing purposes.
Northrop said the sunshield layers and other components of the spacecraft will be folded origami style into an Ariane 5 rocket.