The Sunshield on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is the largest part of the observatory—five layers of thin membrane that must unfurl reliably in space to precise tolerances. Last week, for the first time, engineers stacked and unfurled a full-sized test unit of the Sunshield and it worked perfectly.
The Sunshield is about the length of a tennis court, and will be folded up like an umbrella around the Webb telescope’s mirrors and instruments during launch. Once it reaches its orbit, the Webb telescope will receive a command from Earth to unfold, and separate the Sunshield’s five layers into their precisely stacked arrangement with its kite-like shape.
The Sunshield test unit was stacked and expanded at a cleanroom in the Northrop Grumman facility in Redondo Beach, California.
The Sunshield separates the observatory into a warm sun-facing side and a cold side where the sunshine is blocked from interfering with the sensitive infrared instruments. The infrared instruments need to be kept very cold (under 50 K or -370 degrees F) to operate. The Sunshield protects these sensitive instruments with an effective sun protection factor or SPF of 1,000,000 (suntan lotion generally has an SPF of 8-50).
In addition to providing a cold environment, the Sunshield provides a thermally stable environment. This stability is essential to maintaining proper alignment of the primary mirror segments as the telescope changes its orientation to the sun.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.
The different configurations of a Saturn V launch vehicle
The Apollo 11 astronauts, left to right, Commander Neil A. Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin Jr., inside the Mobile Quarantine Facility aboard the USS Hornet, listen to President Richard M. Nixon on July 24, 1969 as he welcomes them back to Earth and congratulates them on the successful mission. The astronauts had splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:50 p.m. EDT about 900 miles southwest of Hawaii.
Apollo 11 launched from Cape Kennedy on July 16, 1969, carrying the astronauts into an initial Earth-orbit of 114 by 116 miles. An estimated 530 million people watched Armstrong’s televised image and heard his voice describe the event as he took “…one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” on July 20, 1969.
President Barack Obama meets with Apollo 11 astronauts Michael Collins, seated left, Buzz Aldrin, Carol Armstrong, widow of Apollo 11 commander, Neil Armstrong, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, and Patricia “Pat” Falcone, OSTP Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs, far right, Tuesday, July 22, 2014, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, during the 45th anniversary week of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.
NASA’s Orion spacecraft crew module has been stacked on the service module inside the Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy Space Center — renamed on July 21, 2014 as the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building in honor of the legendary astronaut and first man to set foot on the moon, Neil Armstrong.
The Operations and Checkout Building was built in 1964. The facility has played a vital role in NASA’s spaceflight history. The high bay was used during the Apollo program to process and test the command, service and lunar modules. The facility is being used today to process and assemble NASA’s Orion spacecraft as the agency prepares to embark on the next giant leap in space exploration, sending astronauts to an asteroid and Mars.
Air - Le Voyage Dans La Lune
The Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle, in a landing configuration was photographed in lunar orbit from the Command and Service Module Columbia. Inside the module were Commander Neil A. Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin. The long rod-like protrusions under the landing pods are lunar surface sensing probes. Upon contact with the lunar surface, the probes sent a signal to the crew to shut down the descent engine.
Astronaut John H. Glenn Jr., wearing a Mercury pressure suit, is photographed at Cape Canaveral, Florida, during preflight training activities for the Mercury-Atlas 6 (MA-6) mission. Glenn made America’s first manned Earth-orbital spaceflight on Feb. 20, 1962. Launched from Cape Canaveral (Florida) Launch Complex 14, he completed a successful three-orbit mission around the earth, reaching a maximum altitude (apogee) of approximately 162 statute miles and an orbital velocity of approximately 17,500 miles per hour. Glenn’s “Friendship 7” Mercury spacecraft landed approximately 800 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral in the vicinity of Grand Turk Island. Mission duration from launch to impact was 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 23 seconds.
The transporter carries the 363-foot-high Apollo 12 Saturn V space vehicle from the VAB’s High Bay 3 at the start of the 3.5 mile rollout to Launch Complex 39A today. The transporter carried the 12.8 million pound load along the crawlerway at speeds under one mile per hour.
A team of U.S. Navy underwater demolition swimmers prepares the Apollo 8 command module for being hoisted aboard the carrier U.S.S. Yorktown, prime recovery vessel for the initial manned lunar orbital mission. The crew members - astronauts Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr., and William A. Anders - had already egressed the spacecraft and were aboard the recovery ship at the time of this photo.
This Apollo 8 reentry photograph was taken by a U.S. Air Force ALOTS (Airborne Lightweight Optical Tracking System) camera mounted on a KC-135A aircraft flown at 40,000 ft altitude. Apollo 8 splashed down at 10:15 a.m., December 27, 1968, in the central Pacific approximately 1,000 miles South-Southwest of Hawaii.
The Apollo 11 Command/Service Module (CSM) are being mated to the Saturn V Lunar Module Adapter.
On July 16, 1969, the huge, 363-feet tall Saturn V rocket launches on the Apollo 11 mission from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center, at 9:32 a.m. EDT. Onboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft are astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot. Apollo 11 was the United States’ first lunar landing mission. While astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the Lunar Module “Eagle” to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the moon, astronaut Collins remained with the Command and Service Modules “Columbia” in lunar orbit.
[one of the iconic images of the 20th century - ed]
This comemorative watch “50 Years in Space” is not awailable in western countries (Yet). It was launched last week by Raketa, during a gala diner organised in the Palast of the Russian Army in Moscow.