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JWST Sunshield Preliminary Design Review Complete

JWST Sunshield Preliminary Design Review Complete

20 March 2008

The tennis court-sized sunshield built by Northrop Grumman for the James Webb Space Telescope has completed its preliminary design review (PDR) at the company's Space Technology facility.

"The sunshield is absolutely critical to the Webb telescope mission," says Keith Parrish, JWST Sunshield Manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "It will be folded up around the telescope when the telescope is aboard its rocket during launch. The sunshield will then deploy in space to shade the sensitive, precision telescope optics and science instruments from the Sun and enable the observatory to reach its proper operating temperature and environment."

Engineering model of the sunshield, called the pathfinder.
Credit: NASA

The five-layer sunshield consists of extremely thin, specially coated reflective membranes and a supporting structure, and measures about 22m×12m. The sunshield blocks solar heat, allowing the telescope's science instruments to operate at cryogenic temperatures so astronomers can study distant galaxies, young stars and planetary systems at near- and mid-infrared wavelengths.

"The completion of the preliminary design review allows the detailed engineering design to move forward and maintains the delivery schedule for the Observatory," says Martin Mohan, Program Manager for the Webb Telescope.

Completion of the preliminary sunshield design is the latest in a series of significant accomplishments. One year ago, the Northrop Grumman engineers developing sunshield membrane materials demonstrated that the sunshield prototype material had been successfully tested, functioning as predicted, in a relevant environment (simulating space).

Northrop Grumman is prime contactor for the Webb Telescope, leading the design and development effort under contract to NASA Goddard. It is scheduled for launch in 2013.

Last Update: 1 September 2019
3-Dec-2021 16:22 UT

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