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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: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 04 2018, @09:58PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 04 2018, @09:58PM (#675873)

    It has already been bad years for a lot more people, not that any of them want to see it fail. It has sucked the money out of many smaller, but arguably equal value space/science projects.

  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday May 04 2018, @11:56PM

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Friday May 04 2018, @11:56PM (#675916) Journal

    It could be a good thing if it gets the juices flowing about how to make telescopes big and cheap from the start, preventing a future telescope design from repeating the mistakes of JWST.

    The Kilometer Space Telescope [nasa.gov] just got NIAC funding. The Giant Orbiting Astronomical Telescope [insideunmannedsystems.com] would use modular components flown on multiple launches, although that may not be the best approach given that BFR is around the corner.

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  • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday May 05 2018, @01:51AM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 05 2018, @01:51AM (#675937) Journal

    but arguably equal value space/science projects.

    No, that's not arguable.

    The value of something is what people are willing to pay for it, and since JWST is getting the bulk of the funding it is clearly valued more than those other projects.

    Are there people who would "Value" their pet project more than JWST?
    Probably, but it doesn't matter, because they have neither the votes nor the money.

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