In letter : NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope mission took another crucial milestone on Saturday as the observatory’s main mirror was successfully deployed and locked in place over a two-day period. So far, so good.
The 21-foot gold-plated primary mirror had to be bent to fit inside the nose cone of the rocket that carried it into space. The maneuver came after several other critical spacecraft deployments, including the deployment of the five-layer sunshade, and completes the last stage of all major deployments.
Webb will spend the next two weeks continues his journey at the L2 insertion point. Along the way, the launch team will begin calibrating its 18 primary mirror segments using 126 actuators on the back of the mirror segments to properly align the telescope optics.
#NASAWebb is fully deployed! ??
With the successful deployment and locking of our latest mirror wing, it’s:
50 major deployments, completed.
178 pins, released.
20+ years of work, completed.
– NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) January 8, 2022
Before the first images of Webb can be delivered this summer, NASA must calibrate the observatory’s on-board scientific instruments.
There is also a third mid-point correction on the record that will help position the craft in orbit around Lagrange’s second point nearly a million kilometers from Earth. The observatory must be placed so far away in order to protect it from the light and heat of the Sun, Earth and Moon.
Webb is the largest and most complex telescope to ever launch into space. It took off from Kourou, French Guiana on Christmas Day using an Ariane 5 rocket after years of cost overruns and delays.
NASA said late last month that due to its precision launch and smooth initial course correction maneuver, Webb should have enough fuel to significantly extend the duration of its planned 10-year mission. .
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