The fully assembled James Webb Space Telescope. The sunshield and unitised pallet structures (UPS), which fold up around the telescope for launch, were partially deployed to an open configuration to enable telescope installation. Credit: NASA/ Chris Gunn
Engineers have connected the two halves of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope for the first time at Northrop Grumman’s facilities in Redondo Beach, California.
That involved a combination of grunt and precision. They had to lift the telescope (which includes mirrors and science instruments) above the already-combined sunshield and spacecraft using a crane, then guide it into place, ensuring that all primary points of contact were perfectly aligned and seated properly.
“This is an exciting time to now see all Webb’s parts finally joined together into a single observatory for the very first time,” says program director Gregory Robinson.
Now that it is a fully assembled observatory, it will go through additional environmental and deployment testing prior to its scheduled launch in 2021.
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