The primary mirror of the Webb Space Telescope is deployed without a hitch.
The (dollar)10 billion space telescope took NASA just 14 days to fully unfold.
On Saturday, the left wing of Webb’s primary mirror was unfolded and locked into place, marking the end of the major deployments phase.
Although the space telescope now resembles a telescope, the commissioning process is far from complete.
The primary mirror was declared complete at 1:17 p.m. by controllers at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.
On Saturday, January 8, at 8:00 a.m. EST, the left wing deployment began, after a four-hour delay.
On Friday, the team moved the right wing into place.
With a collecting area more than six times that of Hubble’s mirror, the primary mirror, at 21 feet (6.4 meters) wide, is now the largest mirror ever sent into space.
To fit inside the payload fairing of an Ariane 5 rocket, the telescope had to be folded tightly, and assembling it in orbit was deemed impossible.
So, with the primary mirror, secondary mirror, radiator, sunshield, and solar panel in place, all major deployments are complete, with no major glitches or roadblocks.
Webb, a joint effort involving NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency, was launched into space on Christmas Day.
In a press release, Gregory Robinson, Webb program director at NASA, said, “The successful completion of all of the Webb Space Telescope’s deployments is historic.”
“This is the first time a NASA-led mission has attempted to complete a complex sequence in space to unfold an observatory—a remarkable feat for our team, NASA, and the rest of the world.”
I’m not a big fan of exaggeration, but Robinson’s praise is completely justified.
Webb is the most complicated and powerful space telescope ever launched into orbit, with 344 potential failure points, the vast majority of which have been retired.
“The James Webb Space Telescope is a once-in-a-lifetime mission that is on the verge of seeing the first galaxies’ light and unraveling the mysteries of…
Brinkwire in a nutshell.