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posted by Fnord666 on Thursday October 08 2020, @12:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the looking-forward-to-first-light dept.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope passes crucial launch-simulation tests:

NASA's next big space telescope just took another step toward its highly anticipated 2021 launch.

The $9.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope has passed "environmental testing," a series of trials designed to simulate the considerable rigors of launch, NASA officials announced today (Oct. 6).

"The successful completion of our observatory environmental tests represent[s] a monumental milestone in the march to launch," Webb project manager Bill Ochs, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said today in a statement. "Environmental testing demonstrates Webb's ability to survive the rocket ride to space, which is the most violent portion of its trip to orbit approximately a million miles from Earth."


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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Thursday October 08 2020, @05:54PM

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday October 08 2020, @05:54PM (#1062172) Journal

    It's literally too big to fail.

    What happened to NASA's drive to more cost efficiency?

    You seem late to this saga. Cost efficiency was a goal of JWST... back in the 90s when it was being developed:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Webb_Space_Telescope#Background [wikipedia.org]

    In the "faster, better, cheaper" era in the mid-1990s, NASA leaders pushed for a low-cost space telescope. The result was the NGST concept, with an 8-meter aperture and located at L2, roughly estimated to cost US$500 million. In 1997, NASA worked with the Goddard Space Flight Center, Ball Aerospace & Technologies, and TRW to conduct technical requirement and cost studies, and in 1999 selected Lockheed Martin and TRW for preliminary concept studies. Launch was at that time planned for 2007, but the launch date has subsequently been pushed back many times (see table further down).

    In 2003, NASA awarded the US$824.8 million prime contract for the NGST, now renamed the James Webb Space Telescope, to TRW. The design called for a descoped 6.1 metres (20 ft) primary mirror and a launch date of 2010. Later that year, TRW was acquired by Northrop Grumman in a hostile bid and became Northrop Grumman Space Technology.

    Since then, A Lot Of Things Happened.

    Preventing this from happening to future telescopes requires a paradigm shift, especially away from years of redundant testing to try to avoid failure. Folding mechanisms should be cut in favor of modular designs that can be assembled in orbit. Lowered launch costs using fully reusable rockets will also help.

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