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Northrop Engineers Test Webb Telescope Sunshield Orientation; Jim Flynn Comments

Northrop Engineers Test Webb Telescope Sunshield Orientation; Jim Flynn Comments - top government contractors - best government contracting eventNorthrop Grumman engineers recently subjected the James Webb Space Telescope’s sunshield to orientation measurement tests, the company announced Wednesday.

The company holds a contract from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. to design and develop Webb’s sunshield, telescope and spacecraft.

According to the company, the tennis court-sized sunshield is designed to cool the telescope to -375 degrees Farenheit.

The sunshield’s membrane was within .36 inches root-mean-squared of a 3-D shape predicted earlier through a model, said Jim Flynn, Webb sunshield manager for the company’s aerospace systems unit.

ManTech International provided fabrication and testing for the sunshield, Flynn added.

Engineers measured the 3-D shape of the sunshield’s test layer as it was both face-up and then rotated 180 degrees so it was face down.

They also compared those measurements to an analytical model that predicted how the layer would behave in a zero-gravity environment, the company said.

The shield cools the telescope to prevent the observatory’s own heat from interfering with its infrared sensing instruments.

Template level five is the closest layer to Webb's 21 ft. mirror and is the coldest layer.

Webb will succeed the Hubble Telescope and is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

Engineers also conducted qualification testing the gear motors to unfurl different sheild levels while in orbit.

Two motors drive the sunshield mid-boom telescoping tubes that unfurl the sunshield horizontally out into space, two drive the spooler that opens the two shells that hold the folded layers and two create the tension that holds the layers in place.

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Written by David J. Barton

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