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NASA Begins Painstaking Installation of JWST Primary Mirror

Engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, install the first of 18 segments that make up the James Webb Space Telescope's 6.5 meter primary mirror. Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

WASHINGTON — Engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, installed the first of 18 beryllium-coated mirror segments that will make up the James Webb Space Telescope’s 6.5-meter primary mirror.

Ball Aerospace Corp. fabricated the mirror segments, which are now being installed by Harris Corp., onto a telescope backplane manufactured by Orbital ATK.  Northrop Grumman is building JWST for NASA under a $3.5 billion prime contract.

Harris will complete the mirror installation “early next year,” NASA wrote in a Nov. 25 press release.

JWST’s primary mirror will not go into environment testing at the Johnson Space Center in Houston until 2017. NASA is still performing space-environment tests there on a pathfinder mirror, the last of which is not expected to be completed until some time in 2016.

JWST, an infrared successor to the visible-spectrum Hubble Space Telescope, is set to launch in October 2018 aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket. The flagship-class observatory is expected to cost nearly $9 billion, including five years of operation.

Engineers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston prepare a replica of the James Webb Space Telescope's primary mirror for cryogenic environment tests. Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn
Engineers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston prepare a replica of JWST’s primary mirror for cryogenic testing. Tests on the flight mirror will start in 2017. Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

SpaceNews.com

Source: Space News

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NASA Begins Painstaking Installation of JWST Primary Mirror

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