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James Webb Telescope Powered Up by Northrop Grumman

By | June 21, 2018
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope's two halves are powered for the first time. Image credit: Northrop Grumman

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s two halves are powered for the first time. Image credit: Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman has successfully powered up the two main parts of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, signaling a milestone event in the test and integration phase of the program. The telescope’s Optical Telescope element/Integrated Science (OTIS) instrument module and Spacecraft Element (SCE), which includes the sunshield and spacecraft bus, were separately powered at Northrop Grumman’s facilities in Redondo Beach, California. This is the first time both halves were powered in the same building.

In the highbay, engineers use external power supplies, similar to chargers, which convert wall power to a source compatible with the spacecraft. This power is used to turn on the spacecraft and provides power to simulate what it will eventually use on orbit. Once in space, Webb will use solar arrays to operate the bus subsystems as well as the science instrument payload.

SCE will receive additional testing before being combined with the OTIS to form the complete James Webb Space Telescope observatory. Once the telescope is fully integrated, it will undergo observatory-level testing.

Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).