Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Webb Telescope sunshield passes launch depressurization tests to verify flight design

Date:
October 8, 2010
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope continues to make significant progress, successfully completing a series of sunshield vent tests that validate the telescope's sunshield design.

Northrop Grumman lead venting analyst Dan McGregor with a sunshield test article as it is placed in the vacuum chamber at Aerospace Systems' test facility in Redondo Beach, Calif.
Credit: Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope continues to make significant progress, successfully completing a series of sunshield vent tests that validate the telescope's sunshield design.

"While adequate venting is a design consideration for all spaceflight hardware, this was a particularly unique challenge for the sunshield given the large volume of trapped air in the membrane system at launch," said Keith Parrish, Webb telescope sunshield manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "From the beginning of its development venting features have been a critical part of the overall sunshield design. Since we cannot vent test the actual flight article these test have shown the design works and the sunshield will vent safely on its way to orbit."

The sunshield on the Webb telescope will block the heat of the Sun and Earth from reaching the cold section of the Observatory. That's a critical function because the telescope and instruments must be cooled below 50 Kelvin (~-369.7 Fahrenheit) to allow them to see faint infrared emissions from astronomical objects. The sunshield consists of five layers of Kapton ŽE with aluminum and doped-silicon coatings to reflect the sun's heat back into space.

Using flight-like sunshield membranes, the tests are designed to mimic the rapid change in air pressure the folded sunshield will experience the first minutes of launch. Several different folding configurations each underwent a series of 90-second depressurization tests and proved that the stowed sunshield will retain its shape during launch and allow trapped air to escape safely, both critical to sunshield deployment and performance.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is leading Webb's design and development effort for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The first tests were conducted the last week of August in vacuum chambers at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems' Redondo Beach facility. Another series of complementary tests were completed in October where air was injected into the stowed sunshield test article, and that provided more detailed data used in evaluating analytical models.

"This is another significant risk reduction activity that continues to move sunshield development forward," said Scott Willoughby, Webb Telescope program manager for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "We have demonstrated the effectiveness of our sunshield vent design."

Three critical full-scale sections of the sunshield were tested: the section on top of the spacecraft around the tower that supports the telescope; the vertical pallet structure that contains the folded sunshield membranes, and the intervening four-bar linkage area that is folded in an inverted V-shape. The flow paths are complex and the sunshield material, a tough plastic film, Kapton ŽE, is only one to two thousandths of an inch thick and covers a surface area the size of a tennis court.

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 see unexplored planets around distant stars.

The Webb Telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

For more information on the James Webb Space Telescope, visit: http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Webb Telescope sunshield passes launch depressurization tests to verify flight design." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101008162655.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2010, October 8). Webb Telescope sunshield passes launch depressurization tests to verify flight design. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101008162655.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Webb Telescope sunshield passes launch depressurization tests to verify flight design." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101008162655.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

AFP (July 30, 2014) — The European Space Agency's fifth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-5) is takes off to the International Space Station on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. Duration: 00:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

AP (July 30, 2014) — Arianespace launched a rocket Tuesday from French Guiana carrying a robotic cargo ship to deliver provisions to the International Space Station. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) — Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins