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The unfurling of Webb’s sun shield begins

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.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Frank Solomon

    Bob, if possible, I’d like to see a time zone added to the date / time-stamps at the upper left of your posts, and the post comments. This might help gauge things in time. For example, this post says 5:18 PM, the embedded quote from CBS News has its own 8:25 PM time stamp, and that quote says sunshade boom lock-in happened at 10:13 PM. Carefully reading the CBS News article, I saw its 12-31-21 date. This might not matter so much ordinarily, but JWST has a high event-density, and at least for me, it becomes difficult to build an accurate picture of the latest JWST developments, across the sources. I definitely acknowledge that this issue seems to happen frequently across JWST reporting generally, not just BtB.


  • Andrew_W

    On the site you link to “sunshield layer tensioning” : “rescheduled”.

    Anyone know why the delay?

  • Andrew_W: It appears they decided to simply take the day off after a week of continuous work. It is Sunday after all.

  • It also appears that they wanted the extra time to get the telescope’s power system fully charged.

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