This is the major test of the sunshield for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope was conducted in July 2014 by Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, Calif. Image © NASA/Chris Gunn Watch the video…
For the first time, the five sunshield test layers were unfolded and separated; unveiling important insights for the engineers and technicians as to how the deployment will take place when the telescope launches into space.
Jim Flynn, Webb sunshield manager, said:
“These tests are critical and allow us to see how our modeling works and learn about any modifications we may need to make in our design as we move into sunshield flight production.
Tests on the ground are a little bit tricky because we have to account for gravity. Webb won’t face those same challenges in space. To overcome challenges on the ground, our technicians came up with the idea to rest the layers on a structure of metal beams covered by plastic.”
The three-day test took place in July, taking seven engineers and six technicians about 20 hours to complete. On orbit, the sunshield will take several days to unfold.