James Webb Space Telescope Team Moves Forward With Sunshield Tensioning

First Layer of Webb’s Sunshield Tightened
Jan. 3, 2022

Today, at 3:48 pm EST, the Webb team finished tensioning the first layer of the observatory’s sunshield– that is, tightening it into its final, completely taut position. This is the first of five layers that will each be tightened in turn over the next two to three days, until the observatory’s sunshield is fully deployed. The process began around 10 am EST.

This layer is the largest of the five, and the one that will experience the brunt of the heat from the Sun. The tennis-court-sized sunshield helps keep the telescope cold enough to detect the infrared light it was built to observe.

The team has now begun tensioning the second layer.

James Webb Space Telescope Team Moves Forward With Sunshield Tensioning
Jan. 3, 2022

The Webb mission operations team began the first steps in the process of tensioning the first layer of Webb’s sunshield this morning around 10 a.m. EST.

It will take the team two to three days to tension the five-layer sunshield. The plan for today is to focus on the first layer, the largest and the one closest to the Sun.

This critical step in the observatory’s complex sequence of deployments resumed after Webb mission managers paused deployment operations on Saturday to allow for team rest, and then again on Sunday to make adjustments to Webb’s power subsystem and to alter the observatory’s attitude to lower the temperature of the motors that drive the tensioning process.

NASA’s Webb project manager Bill Ochs, Northrop Grumman’s vehicle engineering lead Amy Lo, and NASA’s Webb program director Greg Robinson provided more information about Webb’s first week in space and upcoming deployments in this teleconference held earlier today.

NASA Sets Coverage, Invites Public to View Webb Telescope Launch

With integration and testing formally concluded for the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA’s next giant leap into the cosmic unknown will soon be underway. (Credits: NASA/Chris Gunn)

KOUROU, French Guiana (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of prelaunch, launch, and postlaunch activities for the James Webb Space Telescope, the world’s largest and most powerful space science telescope.

Webb is targeted to launch at 7:20 a.m. EST Friday, Dec. 24, on an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on the northeastern coast of South America.

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