Time-Lapse Video of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Assembly, and Sunshield Deployment
Released on February 26, 2020
This time-lapse video reveals NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is now a fully assembled observatory, and is accomplishing large scale deployments and movements that it will perform while in space.
In 2019, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope celebrated the full mechanical and electrical assembly of the world's largest, most powerful space science observatory ever built. Meaning that Webb's two halves have been physically put together and its wiring harnesses and electrical interfaces have been connected.
Following assembly, the Webb team moved on to successfully send deployment and tensioning commands to all five layers of its sunshield, which is designed to protect the observatory's mirrors and scientific instruments from light and heat, primarily from the Sun.
Ensuring mission success for an observatory of this scale and complexity is a challenging endevour. All of the telescope's major components have been tested individually through simulated environments they would encounter during launch, and while orbiting a million miles away from earth. Now that Webb is fully assembled, it must meet rigorous observatory-level standards. The complete spacecraft reacts and performs differently to testing environments than when its components are tested individually.
The 1:00 minute video was created by NASA's videographers and filmed over a period of time at Northrop Grumman's clean room in Redondo Beach, California.
Following Webb's successful sunshield deployment and tensioning test, members have nearly finished the long process of perfectly folding the sunshield back into its stowed position for flight, which occupies a much smaller space than when it is fully deployed. Then, the observatory will be subject to comprehensive electrical tests and one more set of mechanical tests that emulate the launch acoustic and vibration environment, followed by one final deployment and stowing cycle on the ground, before its flight into space.