Specialty Fabrics Review March 2021 - 12

[ BRIEFS ]

swatches

Engineers successfully
unfold and tension
NASA's telescope
sunshield in final tests

L

engthened to the size of a tennis court, the
five-layer sunshield of NASA's fully assembled
James Webb Space Telescope successfully
completed a final series of large-scale deployment
and tensioning tests in late 2020, according to a NASA
press release. This milestone puts the observatory
one step closer to its launch later this year.
" This is one of Webb's biggest accomplishments
in 2020, " said Alphonso Stewart, Webb deployment
systems lead for NASA's Goddard Space Flight
Center in Greenbelt, Md. " We were able to precisely
synchronize the unfolding motion in a very slow and
controlled fashion and maintain its critical kite-like
shape, signifying it is ready to perform these actions
in space. "

The James Webb Space Telescope's final tests are complete with
the successful completion of its last sunshield deployment test. The
telescope will be the world's premier space science observatory
when it launches this year. Photo: NASA/Chris Gunn.

10 SPECIALTY FABRICS REVIEW / March 2021

Shown fully deployed with all five of its layers tensioned, the
sunshield for the James Webb Space Telescope was completely
unfurled for a final time on earth in a December 2020 test.
Photos: NASA/Chris Gunn.

The KaptonĀ® polymer-coated membranes of
Webb's sunshield were fully deployed and tensioned in
December at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach,
Calif. Northrop Grumman designed the observatory's
sunshield for NASA. During testing, engineers sent
a series of commands to spacecraft hardware that
activated 139 actuators, eight motors and thousands
of other components to unfold and stretch the five
membranes of the sunshield into its final taut shape.
In this test, two pallet structures that hold the
sunshield upright folded down; then two huge " arms "
(known as the mid-boom assembly) of the sunshield
slowly telescoped outward, pulling the folded
membranes along with them. Once the arms locked
in their horizontal position, the membranes of the
sunshield were successfully tensioned individually
starting with the bottom layer, separating each into
its fully deployed shape.
The sunshield divides the observatory into a warm,
sun-facing side (about 185 degrees Fahrenheit)
and a cold, space-facing side (minus 388 degrees
Fahrenheit) comprised of the optics and scientific
instruments. The sunshield will protect the
observatory's optics and sensors so they remain
at extremely cold temperatures to conduct science.
For more, visit www.NASA.gov.


http://www.NASA.gov

Specialty Fabrics Review March 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Specialty Fabrics Review March 2021

Specialty Fabrics Review March 2021 - 1
Specialty Fabrics Review March 2021 - 2
Specialty Fabrics Review March 2021 - 3
Specialty Fabrics Review March 2021 - 4
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