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Critical design review for Webb Telescope spacecraft

Jan. 24, 2014 at 4:06 PM   |   Comments

REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman said Friday it has successfully passed the spacecraft critical design review for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope.

The successful review, five months ahead of schedule, would be a major milestone in the program. The spacecraft provides the power and communications for the observatory and is responsible for pointing the telescope and image stabilizer.

Northrop Grumman is under contract to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center for the design and development of the Webb Telescope's optics, sunshield and spacecraft.

"Our Northrop Grumman team did an incredibly thorough job preparing for this design review and demonstrated impressive knowledge of Webb's sub-systems," said Andy Cohen, Webb spacecraft manager, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "I am exceptionally proud of how hard this team worked to meet this important mission milestone on an accelerated schedule."

The review involved inspection and evaluation of detailed design, construction and testing plans, and flight software for the Webb Telescope's spacecraft by a panel of independent experts.

Northrop noted its project team had successfully completed more than 76 preceding reviews on the spacecraft sub-systems in preparation for the critical design review.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is made up of three major components -- the telescope, a tennis-court sized sunshield, and the spacecraft. The sunshield separates the observatory into a warm sun-facing side and a cold anti-sun side to protect telescope optics from the sun and Earth's heat. The warm side below the sunshield is the spacecraft side. The spacecraft provides power, pointing capability and fuel for station keeping, Northrop said.

The space telescope is a project of NASA, the European Union and Canadian space agencies. Projected launch is in the later part of the decade.

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