Sunshield Deployment Flight Structure for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

Northrop Grum­man Com­pletes Fab­ri­ca­tion of Key Sun­shield Deploy­ment Flight Struc­ture for NASA’s James Webb Space Tele­scope
REDONDO BEACH, Calif.– Northrop Grum­man Cor­po­ra­tion (NYSE:NOC) has com­plet­ed the space-qual­i­fied, graphite com­pos­ite tubes that will enable the giant sun­shield of the James Webb Space Tele­scope to deploy in space. The com­pa­ny is lead­ing the telescope’s design and devel­op­ment under con­tract to NASA’s God­dard Space Flight Cen­ter.

“This flight man­u­fac­tur­ing mile­stone is sig­nif­i­cant for the devel­op­ment of the sun­shield deploy­ment sys­tems,” said James Fly­nn, Webb tele­scope sun­shield man­ag­er, Northrop Grum­man Aero­space Sys­tems. “These are high­ly spe­cial­ized, one-of‑a kind struc­tures. Com­plet­ing them on sched­ule is a major step for­ward for the fab­ri­ca­tion of the flight sun­shield sys­tem.”

Attached to the fold­ed sun­shield mem­branes are 14 nest­ed tubes, sev­en on each side of the space­craft. These sev­en tubes and a Stored Tubu­lar Extendible Mem­ber (STEM) deploy­ment mech­a­nism make up what is called the Mid Boom Assem­bly. As this assem­bly extends hor­i­zon­tal­ly, it pulls on the sun­shield mem­branes, unfold­ing them. Once the tubes are ful­ly extend­ed, the STEM mech­a­nism retracts and pulls back on a cable, tak­ing up any slack so the mem­branes stay in place with the prop­er ten­sion. The tele­scop­ing graphite com­pos­ite tubes are designed by Northrop Grum­man Astro Aero­space and man­u­fac­tured by Webb team­mate ATK.

Astro Aero­space, based in Carpin­te­ria, Calif., is a busi­ness unit of Northrop Grum­man Aero­space Sys­tems. For more than 50 years, Astro Aero­space has pio­neered the tech­nol­o­gy of space deploy­able struc­tures includ­ing Astro­Mesh furlable reflec­tors, anten­nas, truss masts, tele­scop­ic booms, Stor­able Tubu­lar Extendible Mem­bers, solar array and pla­nar radar-array deploy­ments.

Northrop Grum­man is a lead­ing glob­al secu­ri­ty com­pa­ny pro­vid­ing inno­v­a­tive sys­tems, prod­ucts and solu­tions in aero­space, elec­tron­ics, infor­ma­tion sys­tems, and tech­ni­cal ser­vices to gov­ern­ment and com­mer­cial cus­tomers world­wide. Please vis­it for more infor­ma­tion.

CONTACT: Mary Blake
(310) 812‑6291


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