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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: 4, Interesting) by bob_super on Friday May 04 2018, @04:25PM (1 child)

    by bob_super (1357) on Friday May 04 2018, @04:25PM (#675717)

    One the other hand, you're not talking about a very advanced 3D-printed part having a flaw, or a camera that's near-sighted.

    You're talking about someone not counting their screws right, or not specifying the torque right, or not torque-wrenching right.
    When the budget is north if five billion dollars, one would hope those basics are at least done right.

    Which relates to my PCB design theory: it's the darn FET that kills you.
    In short: everyone reviews the high-speed high-power stuff ten times, carefully vets it and simulates every detail ... and nobody notices the LED or FET is on backwards.

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  • (Score: 2) by frojack on Friday May 04 2018, @06:06PM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 04 2018, @06:06PM (#675779) Journal

    It's also possible they were just dropped parts, of the "I'll get it later" type.

    Or two or three technicians doing one job resulting in the predictable Bob tightened them, no Bill did, just check the box and let's go to lunch.

    The paperwork at NASA can be mountainous, all of it piled on to prevent things like this, but ultimately causing things like this.

    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.