NASA Tests Communications Capability of Webb Observatory’s Spacecraft, Telescope Components

NASA has worked with Northrop Grumman and Ball Aerospace to assess the capability of the James Webb Space Telescope’s two main components to communicate with each other.

Engineers and technicians used ground wires to temporarily connect the spacecraft to the telescope as part of the optional “risk reduction” test, NASA said Wednesday.

“Specifically in this test, the spacecraft commanded mirror motion on the telescope, and the telescope replied back with telemetry confirming it,” said Mike Menzel, NASA’s mission system engineer for the Webb telescope.

“While the sunshield was being reassembled to get back into its environmental testing, we took advantage of the time and did a flight-to-flight electrical dry run right now to reduce schedule risk later.”

Menzel noted that NASA expects software and electrical tests to occur in 2019 once Webb is fully assembled.

NASA works with the Canadian Space Agency and European Space Agency on the observatory designed to help researchers explore the solar system.

Northrop’s Los Angeles-based facility houses all the flight components of the Webb telescope.

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