US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — NASA‘s James Webb Space Telescope was successfully folded and placed in the same configuration as it would when it was loaded onto the Ariane 5 rocket for launch next year.
Webb is NASA’s largest and most sophisticated space telescope ever made. It is too large for any missile to be fully deployed, so it was designed to fold to a much smaller configuration. Once in space, the observatory will unfold in a carefully worked out sequence before starting to make innovative observations of space.
“The James Webb Space Telescope first reached a significant milestone when the entire observatory in its configuration for launch was prepared for environmental testing,” said Bill Ochs, Webb’s project manager at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “I am very proud of the entire integration and testing team of Northrop Grumman and NASA. “This achievement demonstrates the team’s outstanding dedication and zeal in such difficult times because of COVID-19.”
The charter of the testing group is to make sure that every piece of equipment and every software included in the Webb telescope will work not only individually, but also as a full-fledged observatory. Now that Webb is fully assembled, technicians and engineers have taken the unique opportunity to control the entire spacecraft and complete the various stages of developing its movement and deployment, which it will perform in space.
Having folded and placed the spaceship in the same configuration in which it will be launched from French Guiana, the engineering team can confidently move forward with the final environmental tests (acoustics and vibration). After completing a series of tests, Webb will be deployed for the last time on Earth for the final test before preparation for launch.
“Working as part of enhanced personal safety measures because of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), the project continues to make good progress and make significant progress in preparing for the upcoming environmental tests,” said Gregory L. Robinson, Webb’s program director at NASA. “The safety of team members remains our top priority. NASA will constantly evaluate the project schedule and adjust decisions as the situation develops. ”
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