NASA's Webb telescope's systems engineering evolves

October 18, 2010

As the James Webb Space Telescope enters its next critical phase of development NASA and Northrop Grumman Corporation have forged an integrated, consolidated and "badgeless" Mission Systems Engineering team.

Led by the Project Office at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., the Webb Telescope Mission Systems Engineering Team is being structured to optimize access to Northrop Grumman's system engineering talent during the telescope's critical test and verification phase which follows the successful Mission Critical Design review held in April.

"Northrop Grumman's system engineering expertise will be integrated with NASA Goddard's mission-level system engineering decision-making so we can better manage and streamline the complex integration and test phase of the telescope," said NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Director Rob Strain.

Northrop Grumman is leading Webb's design and development effort for NASA and the company's support is integral to mission-level systems engineering decisions, Strain said. Northrop Grumman engineers will work side-by-side with NASA engineers in conducting trade assessments across all elements of the program including the , observatory, ground system and Integrated Science Instrument Module.

"We look forward to continuing our close relationship with NASA in this new streamlined organization," said Dave DiCarlo, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "This evolution will enable the entire project to maximize efficiencies and reduce costs so we can meet our goal of launching the Webb telescope earliest with the least risk."

A single systems engineering organization creates greater efficiencies by streamlining communications and decision-making, consolidating expertise into one integrated team. NASA has worked successfully in integrated teams with contractor systems engineering talent on earlier observatories. The Webb Mission Systems Engineering is modeled after the successful Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Systems Engineering organization.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the world's next-generation space observatory and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The most powerful space telescope ever built, Webb will observe the most distant objects in the universe, provide images of the very first galaxies ever formed and study unexplored planets around distant stars. The Webb Telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

Explore further: NASA pondering a future grapple on the James Webb Space Telescope

More information: For more information about NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, visit:

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