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Webb assembled for the first time

Northrop Grumman engineers have successfully completed, for the first time, the full assembly of the James Webb Space Telescope.

To combine both halves of Webb, engineers carefully lifted the Webb telescope (which includes the mirrors and science instruments) above the already-combined sunshield and spacecraft using a crane. Team members slowly guided the telescope into place, ensuring that all primary points of contact were perfectly aligned and seated properly. The observatory has been mechanically connected; next steps will be to electrically connect the halves, and then test the electrical connections.

…Next up for Webb testing, engineers will fully deploy the intricate five-layer sunshield, which is designed to keep Webb’s mirrors and scientific instruments cold by blocking infrared light from the Earth, Moon and Sun. The ability of the sunshield to deploy to its correct shape is critical to mission success.

Only a decade late and nine times over budget ($1 billion vs $9 billion). Let us all pray that when this spacecraft finally reaches its operational location a million miles from Earth it operates as designed.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

4 comments

  • Col Beausabre

    “operates as designed”

    The story is told of Admiral Rickover, who insisted on being on board the sea trials of every new nuclear sub. On one boat, there came a report that a shaft bearing was running hot and noisy. So he proceeded to the offending object, called for the diagrams, took a temperature reading, pulled out a stethoscope to listen and came up with the verdict. “There’s nothing wrong with this bearing, It’s operating as designed. It’s the design that’s the problem” (his exact language was much more forceful and seaman like)

    I think what Bob means is “operates as intended”

    The difference is subtle but important, as anyone who has ever wrestled with computer code has found out to their sorrow. The computer does exactly what you tell it to do, you’ve got to tell it to do the thing you want it to do.

  • Edward

    From the article: “The assembly of the telescope and its scientific instruments, sunshield and the spacecraft into one observatory represents an incredible achievement by the entire Webb team.

    What an unfortunate choice of word. Since this assembly was an objective toward the final goal, it should not be an “incredible” achievement. A list of better choices for the word would have included “expected,” “important,” “difficult,” “late,” “expensive,” “overpriced,” or even the phrase: “it’s about time, but almost certainly too late to achieve our desire to compare Webb data with simultaneous Hubble data.”

    Huh. It looks like I have stopped being enthused about Webb. How sad is that moment when you realize that you have given up on a space probe.

  • m d mill

    Let us first pray the selected rocket delivers it into orbit.

  • John

    If it doesn’t work, we can sen SLS on a repair mission! Webb is the Hubble replacement after all. This comment is 0 for 2.

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