James Webb Space Telescope hit several big milestones in February

Brittany A. Roston - Mar 1, 2021, 6:19pm CST
James Webb Space Telescope hit several big milestones in February

NASA says the James Webb Space Telescope reached multiple milestones in February, paving the way for its launch this upcoming fall season. The milestones included the final functional performance tests, which were conducted at Northrop Grumman’s California location. Assuming everything goes according to schedule, the telescope should launch in October.

According to NASA, the work performed last month comprised the comprehensive systems test, which was joined by a ground segment test. The comprehensive systems test involved first getting a baseline for the telescope’s electrical functional performance.

Once that baseline was established, the team then conducted environmental testing, followed by another comprehensive systems test. The data from the two tests were compared, ultimately confirming that the telescope will be able to handle its launch at both the electronic and mechanical levels.

February’s testing likewise involved turning on all of the space telescope’s electrical systems and cycling the components to make sure they were functional and in communication with each other — things vital to the planned operations once the telescope launches. NASA notes that both the main and redundant backup electrical boxes performed correctly.

Northrop Grumman’s Jennifer Love-Pruitt said regarding the tests:

It’s been amazing to witness the level of expertise, commitment and collaboration across the team during this important milestone. It’s definitely a proud moment because we demonstrated Webb’s electrical readiness. The successful completion of this test also means we are ready to move forward toward launch and on-orbit operations.

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