Roman's Primary Structure - B-Roll Footage

  • Released Friday, May 5th, 2023
  • ID: 14344

The primary structure that will serve as the “bones” of NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope has moved into the big clean room at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The spacecraft bus, Roman’s primary support element, will now be built upon this skeletal framework. Roman will help unravel the secrets of dark energy and dark matter, search for and image exoplanets, and explore many topics in infrared astrophysics.

It’s partly made up of a central cylinder with a top deck that will support most of the observatory. Each of its six sides has a compartment that will house key electronics and other hardware needed to operate the observatory. Major spacecraft elements, such as its power, attitude control and propulsion systems, will be housed within the primary structure. The high-gain antenna will be installed beneath it, and the lowermost part of the primary structure will attach the spacecraft to the rocket during launch.

The structure is mainly made of a special grade of aluminum that’s strong, yet lightweight. To reduce the weight even further, most of its exterior is partly hollowed out in a triangular pattern called an isogrid. Even though it’s large – about 14 feet (4.3 meters) long, 12 feet (3.7 meters) wide, and 6.5 feet (2 meters) tall – the primary structure weighs just 3,600 pounds (1,600 kilograms).

In loosely keeping with a Roman theme, the support structure for people to work on the tall telescope pieces is named the Pantheon. Here the Pantheon is pushed into the clean room. Air pushed into pads at the feet of the Pantheon allow it to be pused with relative ease.

The six-sided primary structure is pushed into the cleanroom. The air pressure inside the clean room is greater than outside, so no dirt flows inside when the door opens. People wearing clean room suits, also known as bunny suits, receive the structure.

Once inside, the primary structure is lifted onto the pantheon. Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol watched from the observation window.

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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


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