Engineers have begun the multi-day unfurling and deployment of the sun shield on the James Webb Space Telescope.
The first step is to deploy two booms on each side of the telescope that draw the shield itself outward.
The deployment of the first boom was held up several hours to give engineers time to make sure the protective covers had, in fact, rolled off to the side of the sunshade pallets as required.
“Switches that should have indicated that the cover rolled up did not trigger when they were supposed to,” NASA said in a blog post. “However, secondary and tertiary sources offered confirmation that it had.”
“The deployment of the five telescoping segments of the motor-driven mid-boom began around 1:30 p.m., and the arm extended smoothly until it reached full deployment,” NASA said.
Engineers then sent commands to deploy the second sunshade boom, which extended smoothly and locked in place at 10:13 p.m., finally giving Webb its iconic kite-like shape.
Next the shield has to be tightened in place, which will also separate and tighten in place the shield’s five layers. According to the schedule, the four layers will be tensioned today, with the fifth tomorrow.
The step-by-step deployment is outlined in detail here, and updates to the most recently completed step after it is finished.
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