. 24/7 Space News .
NASA prepares to fuel James Webb telescope for Dec. 18 launch
by Paul Brinkmann
Washington DC (UPI) Nov 2, 2021

NASA is in the final stages of preparation to launch the nearly $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope, an engineering marvel that may reveal secrets of time and the universe, from South America on Dec. 18.

Technicians are preparing to load the space observatory with fuel that will power it for up to 13 years as it orbits the sun about one million miles from Earth, NASA officials said Tuesday in a press conference.

The telescope will have to deploy a massive solar shield the size of a tennis court to keep its infrared instrument cold enough to see billions of light years in the distance.

"James Webb was designed with very lofty goals in mind to look back in time 13.5 billion years to see the first galaxies formed in the universe," said BegoƱa Vila, NASA's Webb instrument systems engineer.

The spacecraft will also "look at the first stars -- the first light in the universe -- which were 300 times more massive than our sun," she said.

The telescope's powerful infrared instruments are designed to see more clearly and a few hundred million light years farther than the Hubble Space Telescope, which launched in 1990.

Hubble's most distant observation was the galaxy GN-z11, about 32 billion light years away, but the image was faint.

The new telescope is a joint project with the space agencies of Europe, France and Canada. The European contribution to the mission is to launch the 14,300-pound observatory, from the European Space Agency's Guiana Space Center.

NASA has packed and folded the telescope for launch like origami folded paper art, said Alphonso Stewart, Webb deployment systems lead.

Deploying all of it in space will be like "origami in reverse, meaning that it will unfold in a certain sequence," Stewart said. The process will take almost a month, after which NASA will spend another five months testing sensors and systems before routine science can begin.

"The solar array ... is the only sort of automatic release system that we have," he said. "The rest of the deployment is all ground commands, meaning that we will take our time and we send the command from the ground and wait for confirmation that it occurred."

James Webb has 344 single-point failure items, or devices that can break or stick, and 80 percent are associated with deployment, according to NASA.

If something goes wrong, James Webb is not serviceable like Hubble, which is much closer to Earth and has been fixed or updated five times by astronauts on spacewalks. Most of the instruments and features of the telescope have backups to switch on if they fail, Stewart said.

Instead of traveling to visit the scope, NASA would attempt to solve any glitches using "shimmy, twirl, or fire and ice" techniques, he said.

Those terms refer to shaking the craft, spinning it or allowing it to expand and contract by exposing it to the sun in an attempt to dislodge or reactivate any features that aren't working, Stewart said.

Engineers also have attempted to account for damage from space debris or micrometeorites, said Mike Menzel, Webb lead mission systems engineer.

"We anticipated micrometeoroid degradation on both the sunshield and the primary mirror," Menzel said. "The micrometeoroids, when they hit the mirror, will put nice little well-defined bullet holes in it."

But the damage shouldn't make a significant impact on the telescope's science abilities, he said.

"We built a world class infrared telescope. We built it, we've aligned it, we've tested it, we've proved it works, and now we're going to have to break it up, fold it up, and actually rebuild it on orbit," Menzel said.

Related Links
Rocket Science News at Space-Travel.Com

Thanks for being there;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5+ Billed Monthly

paypal only
SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal

Kuaizhou lifts off successfully, places satellite in orbit
Beijing (XNA) Oct 28, 2021
China launched a high-resolution Earth-observation satellite into space aboard a Kuaizhou 1A carrier rocket on Wednesday afternoon, according to the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. In a statement, the State-owned space contractor said that the solid-propellant rocket blasted off at 2:19 pm from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China, and placed the satellite - a Jilin-1 Gaofen-02F - into a preset orbit shortly after. The mission marked the 12th flight of the Kuaizhou ... read more

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Harris to announce first National Space Council meeting in nearly a year

NASA, SpaceX Reviewing Commercial Crew Rotation Plans

Astronauts to return from space station next week: NASA

Mind the stars

Hypersonix to use Siemens' software in design of its hydrogen fuelled launchers

NASA prepares to fuel James Webb telescope for Dec. 18 launch

Major Artemis engine part arrives at Stennis for certification testing

NASA, SpaceX reschedule Crew-3 launch due to weather

Flight #15 - Start of the Return Journey

Sols 3287-3288: Assessing a New Potential Drill Target

Smart focus on Mars

Researchers begin to understand correlation of schumann resonances and dust storms on Mars

Shenzhou XIII crew ready for first spacewalk

Chinese astronauts arrive at space station for longest mission

China's longest-yet crewed space mission impressive, expert says

Chinese astronaut bridges gender gap

OneWeb and Leonardo DRS announce partnership to offer low earth orbit services for Pentagon

Intelsat and OneWeb demo global multi-orbit satellite service to Pentagon

SpaceFund Invests in Rhea Space Activity

iRocket And Turion Space ink agreement for 10 launches to low earth orbit

Georgia State University astronomy researcher wins grant to improve detection, monitoring of satellites

Healable carbon fiber composite offers path to long-lasting, sustainable materials

Simulations in 3D improve understanding of energetic-particle radiation and help protect space assets

Shape-shifting materials with infinite possibilities

Tidying up planetary nurseries

To find life on other planets, NASA rocket team looks to the stars

Rocky Exoplanets Are Even Stranger Than We Thought

Building planets from protoplanetary disks

Science results offer first 3D view of Jupiter's atmosphere

Juno peers deep into Jupiter's colorful belts and zones

Scientists find strange black 'superionic ice' that could exist inside other planets

Jupiter's Great Red Spot is deeper than thought, shaped like lens

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.