Assembly stand completed for James Webb Telescope flight optics

Nov 17, 2011
This is the Webb Telescope Ambient Optical Assembly Stand. Credit: NASA/Maggie Masetti

(PhysOrg.com) -- The cleanroom at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. has received a giant structural steel frame that will be used to assemble the mirrors and instruments of the James Webb Space Telescope.

"This milestone is important as it marks the transition to the integration and testing phase for the Webb telescope's element," said Lee Feinberg, Optical Telescope Element Manager for the Webb telescope at Goddard.

The Webb telescope is the world's next-generation and scientific successor to the . 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 planets around .


This timelapse video shows part of the AOAS construction process. (Credit: NASA Goddard)

The installation of the giant structural steel optical assembly stand was recently completed at Goddard by Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, Calif. and its teammate ITT Exelis, McLean, Va. Northrop Grumman is leading the design and development effort for the telescope under contract to Goddard.

"Due to the excellent efforts of our teammate ITT Exelis, we have completed each of the major elements of equipment required to complete the assembly of the optical flight telescope," said Scott Willoughby, Webb telescope vice president and program manager at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "With the near completion of the final cryotest for the last six flight mirror segments, we are making great progress on the program."

The U-shaped optical assembly stand is is 24 feet high, 52 feet wide and 41 feet long and weighs 139,000 pounds. Its purpose is to cradle the entire 3.7 metric ton optical telescope and install 18 individual 90 pound mirror segments and other components onto the telescope structure with better than one one-thousandth of an inch precision. The platform has been installed in Goddard's largest clean room where Northrop Grumman and ITT will assemble the telescope in late 2014.

ITT Exelis teammate JPW Companies in Syracuse, N.Y. built the massive structure. Two other ITT teammates supplied other elements of the assembly stand: Cranetech, Inc. designed and built the track system suspended above the stand and Progressive Machine and Design made the robotic arms attached to the track that install the mirror segments. The ITT Exelis team spent a year incrementally building and demonstrating the mirror installation equipment.

"The integration equipment is a critical piece of the Webb telescope program. Over the past three years, ITT Exelis has developed a risk reduction program to demonstrate the key elements of this equipment," said Rob Mitrevski, vice president and general manager, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems at ITT Exelis Geospatial Systems. "With the delivery of the assembly stand, all of the equipment is coming together in preparation for the assembly effort."

Explore further: Research pair offer three possible models of Pluto ahead of New Horizons visit

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Vegetables on Mars within ten years?

19 hours ago

The soil on Mars may be suitable for cultivating food crops – this is the prognosis of a study by plant ecologist Wieger Wamelink of Wageningen UR. This would prove highly practical if we ever decide to ...

NASA Cassini images may reveal birth of a Saturn moon

20 hours ago

(Phys.org) —NASA's Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet's known ...

Meteorite studies suggest hidden water on Mars

21 hours ago

Geochemical calculations by researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology to determine how the water content of Mars has changed over the past 4.5 billion years suggest as yet unidentified reservoirs of water ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life

A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA. In fact, ...

NASA Cassini images may reveal birth of a Saturn moon

(Phys.org) —NASA's Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet's known ...

Vegetables on Mars within ten years?

The soil on Mars may be suitable for cultivating food crops – this is the prognosis of a study by plant ecologist Wieger Wamelink of Wageningen UR. This would prove highly practical if we ever decide to ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.