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posted by janrinok on Sunday January 09, @11:46PM   Printer-friendly
from the cool! dept.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Successfully Unfolds its Massive Mirror

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope successfully unfolds its massive mirror:

The team behind the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope successfully finished unfolding the instrument's distinctive golden mirror on Saturday, meaning the telescope is now fully deployed and is one step closer to sending back data about the universe's first galaxies.

"The successful completion of all of the Webb Space Telescope's deployments is historic," Webb's program director at NASA Headquarters, Gregory L. Robinson, said in a release. "This is the first time a NASA-led mission has ever attempted to complete a complex sequence to unfold an observatory in space – a remarkable feat for our team, NASA, and the world."

NASA and its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, began remotely unfolding the two wings of Webb's primary mirror on Friday and completed the task at about 10:15 a.m. PT Saturday, when the second wing latched into place.

Over the next six months, Webb is set to travel 1 million miles from Earth and begin sending back images of the universe that promise to serve up a new, unfiltered story of the cosmos. Not only will Webb teach us about hidden regions of space, it also has the power to prove whether we've correctly documented the events that happened right after the Big Bang.

Remarkably, NASA Has Completed Deployment of the Webb Space Telescope

Remarkably, NASA has completed deployment of the Webb space telescope:

But now that ultra complex heat shield is working. The temperature on the Sun-facing side of the telescope is 55 degrees Celsius [(131 °F)], or a very, very, very hot day in the Sahara desert . And already, the science instruments on the back side of the sunshield have cooled to -199 degrees Celsius[(-326.2 °F)], a temperature at which nitrogen is a liquid. They will yet cool further.

Work remains, of course. Webb still must traverse about 370,000 km to reach an orbit around a stable Lagrange point, L2. Scientists and engineers must check out and align the 18 primary mirror segments. Scientific instruments must be calibrated. But all of this work is somewhat more routine when it comes to science spacecraft. There are risks, to be sure, but these are mostly known risks.

We can therefore be reasonably confident now that Webb will, in fact, begin to make science observations this summer. We should, truly, be in awe.


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

 
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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10, @05:05AM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10, @05:05AM (#1211426)

    > There's fixed-price contracts for riskier human endeavors like ocean salvage recovery or putting out oil fires.

    Your examples are relatively short term projects -- either they are successful or they fail, probably in weeks, or months. The bids will be high (relative to the costs incurred) and the bidders make money on average, with some % success rate. For owners that like to live dangerously and gamble, this can make a business.

    R&D projects like the DOT project I mentioned above was a two+ year effort to demonstrate some new technology. The deliverable was a one-off, very little chance of re-using anything and selling to another customer. We (the high bidders, who lost the job) should have gritted our teeth, bid low, (we were told that we had by far the best technical proposal), then created some phony "unknown-unknowns" to go back for the rest of the money that was necessary to do the full job. It's far from ideal, but that seems to be how the R&D game is played in USA.

  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 10, @06:33AM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10, @06:33AM (#1211437) Journal

    Your examples are relatively short term projects -- either they are successful or they fail, probably in weeks, or months.

    The JWST should have been a lot more short term than it was.I wager the lack of fixed-price contracts helped make that considerable delay happen.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10, @10:37AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10, @10:37AM (#1211468)
    There are construction projects that take a decade that require bid bonds from the contractors. But let's take something people here are more familiar with - software and hardware development. Projects get axed all the time because they're taking too long or the cost is exploding.

    Look at Thanatos - 15 years of bullshit and lies for something that was physically impossible. A billion bucks gone. When something is too good to be true, and you see the coats and timeline explode, you kill it before it kills you.

    Anyone working in a startup in the 90s will remember how many startups turned into money pits that never produced anything. There's a lost opportunity cost in continuing to pursue anything that has gotten out of hand.

    The space shuttle was pork and fantasy. For the same money as the shuttle and SLS, you could have had a permanent moonbase 15 years ago. That's the opportunity cost of the shuttle, sls,,and webb. How much radio astronomy could gave been done with a radio telescope on the back side of the moon,,with the entire moon shielding it from radio noise from earth?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10, @04:04PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10, @04:04PM (#1211514)

      Let's also talk about the B2 bomber and all the nukes we pay for. Add some zeros. Now, round to 3 decimal places.... huh all the budget problems went away?!

      • (Score: 2, Funny) by khallow on Monday January 10, @06:43PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10, @06:43PM (#1211574) Journal

        Let's also talk about the B2 bomber and all the nukes we pay for. Add some zeros. Now, round to 3 decimal places.... huh all the budget problems went away?!

        "Add some zeros". That's a creative accounting move. Great way to scam. It's not a serious way to budget.