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  James Webb Space Telescope: comments

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Author Topic:   James Webb Space Telescope: comments
Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-23-2015 04:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This thread is intended for comments and questions about the James Webb Space Telescope and the updates published under this topic.

The JWST is NASA's next orbiting observatory and the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. A tennis court-sized telescope orbiting far beyond Earth's moon, Webb will detect infrared radiation and be capable of seeing in that wavelength as well as Hubble sees in visible light.

Blackarrow
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posted 04-23-2015 04:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Several years ago, Bruce McCandless told me that the James Webb Space Telescope was going to be fitted with a grappling point on the off-chance that a future astronaut crew might visit to carry out repairs. Is that still the case?

Will the JWST have a shuttle-type grapple-point? Would it be possible to send an Orion crew to fix JWST if it breaks down? (I do realise Orion doesn't have an "arm" but designing some sort of "grapple hook" would surely be simple compared with committing to a repair flight.)

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-23-2015 05:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There are no plans for Orion (or any other vehicle, crewed or robotic) to visit JWST, and none of the telescope's instruments can be serviced on orbit.

In 2007 however, NASA announced it would add a docking ring "just in case" something truly horrific (and obvious) were to go wrong with the observatory's deployment that astronauts might be able to help fix it. But as far as I can see, the only mention of such an adapter dates back to that original news eight years ago and since then, there has been no official confirmation that the docking ring was ever added.

BetaCanum
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posted 04-24-2015 11:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BetaCanum   Click Here to Email BetaCanum     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Probably better to save the weight and just know that you could build a jig down the road to capture it if necessary, ala Intelsat 6.

Cozmosis22
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posted 04-24-2015 12:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Since this observatory will be placed more than a quarter of a million miles from Earth it is highly unlikely that there will be any crewed servicing mission. Also, a robotic mission would be too expensive and probably too complicated to be feasible. The JWST must work properly once orbited or it will become space junk.

Jim Behling
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posted 04-24-2015 12:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Its really not viable for JWST repairs to be supported by Orion. In the deployed configuration, JWST is a delicate and contamination sensitive spacecraft. Orion's RCS thrusters would greatly affect the sunshield and would deposit exhaust on the unenclosed mirrors.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-14-2017 11:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The U.S. Departments of Commerce and State have removed the James Webb Space Telescope from the U.S. Munitions List (USML), freeing it from International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), as part of a larger set of tweaks to the space export controls.
The revised rule makes several other minor changes to technologies included on export control lists. It also shifts NASA's James Webb Space Telescope from the USML to the Commerce Control List, after the State Department concluded that the space observatory "was within the scope of spacecraft and related items that did not warrant being subject to the ITAR." JWST will require an export license as it will be shipped to French Guiana in 2018 for launch on an Ariane 5.
The Commerce Control List is a less restrictive export control system administered by the Commerce Department.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-30-2017 07:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA's "Webb-cam" Captures Engineers at Work on Webb at Johnson Space Center

NASA's special "Webb-cam" kept an eye on the development of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, since 2012. Now that Webb telescope has moved to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, a special Webb camera was installed there to continue providing daily video feeds on the telescope's progress.

Space enthusiasts, who are fascinated to see how this next generation space telescope has come together and how it is being tested, are able to see the telescope's progress as it happens by watching the Webb-cam feed online.

There were two Webb-cams at NASA Goddard. Those cameras, which were mounted inside the giant cleanroom, provided still photos (refreshed every minute) of the activity inside and gave a peek at what engineers and technicians were doing to the telescope as it came together. Over the last five years, Webb-cam viewers saw some amazing images of the Webb at Goddard, such as when all 18 gold-coated mirror segments of the Webb's primary mirror were mounted on the telescope.

"The two Webb-cams we installed in Goddard's giant cleanroom have developed a huge following over the last five years," said Maggie Masetti, social media manager and web developer on the Webb telescope mission at NASA Goddard. "With millions of views every month, you can bet that if there was a camera glitch, we heard about it right away."

The new "Webb-cam" is mounted where it has a view of the cleanroom at NASA Johnson Space Center. The camera fronts the chamber where the Webb telescope will be undergoing cryogenic testing in a massive chamber called "Chamber A." Although there is no view of Webb once it is inside the chamber during the actual cryo-optical testing, there will be much activity on Webb in the cleanroom itself for several weeks before and after.

The Web camera at NASA's Johnson Space Center can be seen online here, with larger views of the cams available here.

Fra Mauro
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posted 07-12-2017 06:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The vault-like, 40-foot diameter, 40-ton door of NASA's Johnson Space Center's historic Chamber A sealed shut on July 10, 2017, signaling the beginning of about 100 days of cryogenic testing for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope in Houston.
Any idea of the cost of this test? I'm not questioning it's necessity, just wondering about the money involved.

dom
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posted 07-12-2017 06:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think after what happened to HST, the more tests the better!

Jim Behling
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posted 07-12-2017 07:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Fra Mauro:
Any idea of the cost of this test?
The costs of building a clean room at the entrance of the chamber would be much greater than the test itself. The cost of the test would only be for the electrical power and fluids to run the chamber, the manpower to operate the chamber and manpower to monitor JWST. One may also include the cost of transport of the telescope to and from JSC.

This test is common to all new spacecraft designs. The issue was finding one large enough to hold the telescope in the deployed configuration.

Just a note, this is just the telescope portion of JWST, the spacecraft bus and sunshield are still in manufacturing at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach. The spacecraft bus will go through its own thermal vac test by itself.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-01-2017 07:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The James Webb Space Telescope is facing a schedule conflict for its Ariane 5 launch with ESA's BepiColombo mission to Mercury that could delay the telescope's launch by several months, reports SpaceNews.
BepiColombo, unlike JWST, has a narrow launch window in order to reach Mercury. ESA officials said earlier in July that the mission's current launch window opens Oct. 5 and runs through Nov. 28. JWST does not have similar launch window restrictions...

"It's unclear if BepiColombo will be out of the way" before JWST arrives at Kourou for launch preparations, [Alan Boss, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution and a member of the Astrophysics Advisory Committee] said. He believed JWST needed three to six months of "full access" to facilities at Kourou to prepare for launch. "You really want to have BepiColombo long gone before you move in and start taking over."

If BepiColombo sticks to its current schedule, that could mean delaying JWST by several months. "There's some concern that that October 2018 launch may actually slip into the spring of 2019," he said.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-28-2017 01:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope has been delayed to Spring 2019, but not because of ESA's BepiColombo:
"The change in launch timing is not indicative of hardware or technical performance concerns," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington. "Rather, the integration of the various spacecraft elements is taking longer than expected."

As part of an international agreement with the ESA (European Space Agency) to provide a desired launch window one year prior to launch, NASA recently performed a routine schedule assessment to ensure launch preparedness and determined a launch schedule change was necessary. The careful analysis took into account the remaining tasks that needed to be completed, the lessons learned from unique environmental testing of the telescope and science instruments at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and the current performance rates of integrating the spacecraft element.

Blackarrow
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posted 11-01-2017 06:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't want to sound unduly pessimistic, but the JWST represents a huge number of astronomical eggs in one basket. Launch vehicles aren't infallible. Highly complex satellites don't always deploy successfully. What's the back-up plan for astronomy if JWST fails?

(In human terms, that's a bit like asking, "What's your back-up plan if you die?" But people do die.)

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-01-2017 07:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A launch failure, as they say in the business, would be a bad day.

There is no back-up plan for a loss of vehicle. If Webb were to be lost, it would be a significant setback for astronomy.

damnyankee36
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posted 11-15-2017 01:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for damnyankee36   Click Here to Email damnyankee36     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have noticed in photos and diagrams that the actual telescope appears to be fixed to the shade assembly. To me this means that the telescope will be basically pointing at a right angle to the sun at all times. I'm sure there will be a little leeway in this angle; as long as sunlight does not fall on the telescope it will stay cool.

So, it seems that its range in pointing will be somewhat limited. Also, any particular window of opportunity for an observation will only happen approximately once every 180 days if the object is on the orbital plane. Probably not a big deal but it does limit what can be observed at any given point.

Am I correct in this assumption?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-24-2018 10:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Photographed by Ron Zaguli (cS: thisisajob), the transport canister for the James Webb Space Telescope made its way from Ellington Airport to Johnson Space Center on Wednesday night (Jan. 24).

The observatory's combined science instruments and optics will be loaded into the carrier and returned to Ellington to be flown to Northrop Grumman's facilities in Redondo Beach, California, where they will be integrated with Webb's sunshield and spacecraft bus.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-28-2018 03:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report stating that integration and test challenges have delayed the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope and threaten to push the costs for the observatory over its cap.
In 2017, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) project delayed its launch readiness date by at least 5 months, and further delays are likely.

The delay — from October 2018 to a launch window between March and June 2019 — was primarily caused by components of JWST's spacecraft taking longer to integrate than planned. JWST made considerable progress toward the completion of integration and test activities in the past year. However, the project used all remaining schedule reserve — or extra time set aside in the schedule in the event of delays or unforeseen risks — to address technical issues, including an anomaly on the telescope found during vibration testing.

Extending the launch window provided the project up to 4 months of schedule reserve. However, shortly after requesting the new launch window in September 2017, the project determined that several months of schedule reserve would be needed to address lessons learned from the initial folding and deployment of the observatory's sunshield (see image).

Given remaining integration and test work ahead — the phase in development where problems are most likely to be found and schedules tend to slip — coupled with only 1.5 months of schedule reserves remaining to the end of the launch window, additional launch delays are likely. The project's Standing Review Board will conduct an independent review of JWST's schedule status in early 2018 to determine if the June 2019 launch window can be met.

JWST will also have limited cost reserves to address future challenges, such as further launch delays, and is at risk of breaching its $8 billion cost cap for formulation and development set by Congress in 2011. For several years, the prime contractor has overestimated workforce reductions, and technical challenges have prevented these planned reductions, necessitating the use of cost reserves.

Program officials said that existing program resources will accommodate the new launch window — provided remaining integration and testing proceeds as planned without any long delays. However, JWST is still resolving technical challenges and work continues to take longer than planned to complete. As a result, the project is at risk of exceeding its $8 billion formulation and development cost cap.

oly
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posted 02-28-2018 05:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
If Webb were to be lost, it would be a significant setback for astronomy.
Great words of wisdom Robert. They seem appropriate with this latest news.

Fra Mauro
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posted 03-21-2018 04:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is it possible that further cost overruns could end the JWST?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-21-2018 05:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Anything is possible, but it is not very likely. Both Congress and the President have touted the Webb as an important asset to the U.S. space program and the future of astronomical research.

denali414
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posted 03-21-2018 05:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for denali414   Click Here to Email denali414     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With all the great knowledge that will be gained from the James Webb, it would be a great sadness and tragedy if this program does not go forward. Just makes me shake my head how budgets and timelines get so abused on these programs.

Fra Mauro
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posted 03-23-2018 10:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree it would be a great loss but the cost overruns are phenomenal. There has been too much money invested in it to kill it now.

Blackarrow
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posted 03-23-2018 09:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's "too big to fail." Or perhaps that should be "too big to kill."

oly
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posted 03-23-2018 09:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sadly, until the telescope is sitting on top of a fuelled rocket with the countdown approaching zero, there is always an opportunity to cut the program and save money. If the current administration decided to use the funds somewhere else, or if a problem is detected in a system or hardware item between now and launch, delaying until next budget or cancelling the program could always be an option.

Mike Dixon
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posted 03-24-2018 02:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Dixon   Click Here to Email Mike Dixon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would hate to see this program cancelled. Limitless opportunities.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-27-2018 10:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release:
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope currently is undergoing final integration and test phases that will require more time to ensure a successful mission. After an independent assessment of remaining tasks for the highly complex space observatory, Webb's previously revised 2019 launch window now is targeted for approximately May 2020.

...NASA is establishing an external Independent Review Board (IRB), chaired by Thomas Young, a highly respected NASA and industry veteran who is often called on to chair advisory committees and analyze organizational and technical issues. The IRB findings, which will complement the [project's Standing Review Board] SRB data, are expected to bolster confidence in NASA's approach to completing the final integration and test phase of the mission, the launch campaign, commissioning, as well as the entire deployment sequence.

ejectr
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posted 03-27-2018 01:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Guess we'll wait and see...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-04-2018 08:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceNews reports that the James Webb Space Telescope team is dealing with a new problem discovered in recent testing of the spacecraft.
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.

oly
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posted 05-04-2018 08:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had written a very long line of questions regarding how this could happen, but they were rhetorical. The most fitting response seems to be, OUCH!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-27-2018 11:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From NASA Administrator James Bridenstine via Twitter:
The James Webb Space Telescope will produce first of its kind, world-class science. Based on recommendations by an Independent Review Board, the new launch date for the James Webb Space Telescope is March 30, 2021. I'm looking forward to the launch of this historic mission.

teopze
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posted 06-27-2018 05:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for teopze   Click Here to Email teopze     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sometimes I think it would be better for the whole community to just try to launch the damn thing and see it explode just to have it "done"...

Sorry for my cynism but that thing is not a white elephant anymore it's a white brontosaurus.

Fra Mauro
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posted 07-06-2018 10:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This program has certainly become a problem for NASA and maybe to Northrop Grumman as well. NASA is fortunate that this hasn't become a national TV news story as an example of a project that could be an example of government waste.

Blackarrow
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posted 07-08-2018 05:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Pushing the launch of JWST back to March 2021 seems to be a very blatant example of "kicking the can down the road." By March 2021, the President will either have been re-elected or replaced; the fate of the NASA Administrator will likely have been determined by the election result; there will be no looming mid-term elections; and the fate of SLS will probably have been determined by the results of the first launch.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-08-2018 05:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The March 2021 schedule was a recommendation of an independent, non-partisan review board based on the work remaining to be completed. Elections or the status of other NASA projects (such as SLS) were not factors they considered.

Blackarrow
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posted 07-09-2018 08:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Then perhaps not "blatant" but the review board must have realised that a delay until March, 2021, would lead people to wonder. And it does conveniently mean that the risk of an expensive flop is now far in the future, politically speaking.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-09-2018 09:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That people will wonder has no bearing on much time is needed to complete the telescope and have it ready for launch. If the Webb could have been ready earlier, then the board would have recommended an earlier date.

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