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posted by janrinok on Friday May 04 2018, @03:07PM   Printer-friendly
from the just-like-my-car dept.

JWST suffers new problem during spacecraft testing

In a presentation at a meeting of the National Academies' Space Studies Board here May 3, Greg Robinson, the JWST program director at NASA Headquarters, said some "screws and washers" appear to have come off the spacecraft during recent environmental testing at a Northrop Grumman facility in Southern California. Technicians found the items after the spacecraft element of JWST, which includes the bus and sunshield but not its optics and instruments, was moved last weekend from one chamber for acoustics tests to another to prepare for vibration testing.

"Right now we believe that all of this hardware — we're talking screws and washers here — come from the sunshield cover," he said. "We're looking at what this really means and what is the recovery plan." The problem, he said, was only a couple of days old, and he had few additional details about the problem. "It's not terrible news, but it's not good news, either," he said. The incident, Robinson argued, showed the importance of the wide range of tests the spacecraft is put through prior to launch. "That's why we do the testing," he said. "We do it now, we find it now, we fix it and we launch a good spacecraft."

This latest incident comes as an independent review board, chartered by NASA in late March after announcing a one-year delay in JWST's launch because of other technical issues, is in the midst of its analysis of the mission and its launch readiness. That review, led by retired aerospace executive and former NASA Goddard director Tom Young, is scheduled to be completed at the end of the month.

NASA is expected to brief Congress on the status of the James Webb Space Telescope in late June.

Also at Popular Mechanics.

Previously: James Webb Space Telescope Vibration Testing Completed
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to Spring 2019
JWST: Too Big to Fail?
GAO: James Webb Space Telescope Launch Date Likely Will be Delayed (Again)
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to May 2020, Could Exceed Budget Cap
NASA Announces JWST Independent Review Board Members

Related: Northrop Grumman's Faulty Payload Adapter Reportedly Responsible for "Zuma" Failure

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by VLM on Friday May 04 2018, @03:19PM (2 children)

    by VLM (445) on Friday May 04 2018, @03:19PM (#675698)

    A good automobile analogy of why delays are resulting in screwed up test results, is if you rebuild your car engine in one weekend in one unitary effort, you'll remember all kinds of rando trivia and detail such that you won't have random bolts and parts laying around the garage when you're finished with the rebuild and the engine will probably work. However if you insist on spending a year very slowly rebuilding the engine you're going to have to do stuff like de-rust and hone the cylinder walls three times and you're gonna have to buy 5 spark plugs for a 4 cylinder engine because parts sit around and get lost or misplaced so you end up buying more than you need and at the end you got a pile of extra parts and you're not quite sure if every nut that needs a lockwasher had one installed or were the head bolts finger tight just to keep the parts in place for months or did you torque them down and when you fire the thing up the first time, odds are you'll have much more trouble.

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  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Snow on Friday May 04 2018, @03:26PM (1 child)

    by Snow (1601) on Friday May 04 2018, @03:26PM (#675700) Journal

    I've taken apart things with like 5 fasteners and still had hardware left over once it was back together.

    I swear to god, once you get a few nuts/screws/washers in a bowl, they breed.

    • (Score: 5, Funny) by Azuma Hazuki on Friday May 04 2018, @06:54PM

      by Azuma Hazuki (5086) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 04 2018, @06:54PM (#675807) Journal

      Well, yes...screws and nuts. What did you expect?

      I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...