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James Webb Space Telescope Successfully Deploys Primary Mirror

Space telescope unfolds

James Webb Space Telescope Successfully Deploys Primary Mirror

The James Webb Space Telescope, which was launched in French Guiana on Christmas Day in 2021, has unfolded its primary mirror, completing the major steps in the post-launch deployment of the giant observatory. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced that its controllers issued commands to deploy an assembly called the starboard primary mirror wing, containing 3 of the 18 segments of the primary mirror, SpaceNews reported Saturday.

The wing was folded against the side of the spacecraft for launch, and over the course of about three hours a motor moved it into position and it was then locked into place. A similar wing on the other side of the primary mirror moved into place on Friday.

Bill Ochs, program manager for JWST at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, announced to ground control personnel that the mirror wing had successfully latched into place. He thanked them, as well as their counterparts from Northrop Grumman, for their “perfectly” executed work. Ochs also said that the process of unfolding the mirror is “not as easy as it looks.”

The deployment of the two mirror wings was the last of the major deployments of the space telescope that started shortly after its launch on an Ariane 5 rocket. The process included the deployment of the primary and secondary mirrors, its large sunshade and other devices such as a solar panel and antenna.

Ochs called the events of the past two weeks, which were accomplished almost like clockwork, “totally amazing.”

The successful deployments put to a close the initial phase of the $10 billion space telescope’s commissioning. Over the next several months, engineers will align the optics of the telescope mirrors, as well as check out the observatory’s four instruments, SpaceNews further reported.

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Category: Space