Composite Telescope Structure for New NASA Space

26 November 2002

ATK is the composite structures supplier on a team that will build NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, a powerful new space-based observatory designed to replace the Hubble Space Telescope.

ATK Composites will be responsible for design, fabrication, and testing of the composite telescope structure, which includes backing structures and struts for the telescope's two deployable mirrors and support structures for the aft optics. The structures will be manufactured from a proprietary graphite hybrid material using advanced hand layup and precision bonding techniques specifically designed for critical thermal distortion performance at cryogenic temperatures.

TRW will design and fabricate the observatory's primary mirror and spacecraft, and will be responsible for systems integration, pre-flight testing, and on-orbit checkout of the observatory. Other key teammates on the project include Ball Aerospace and Eastman Kodak.

""The James Webb Space Telescope will require thermally stable structures that perform with uncompromising precision,"" said Travis Campbell, president, ATK Composites. ""We're proud to provide that capability and be teamed with TRW in the development of this sophisticated, new science instrument with unprecedented capabilities.""

The next-generation telescope will be able to peer farther into space and with greater clarity than any previous telescope at a fraction of the size and overall cost of the Hubble Space Telescope. Scientists hope to use the telescope to gain a greater understanding of the origins and structure of the universe and make predictions about its ultimate fate.

The telescope will operate in cryogenic temperatures below -390 degrees F in a Lagrange 2 orbit over 940,000 miles from Earth. When deployed, its primary mirror will be approximately 20 feet in diameter.

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