The two main components of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope are now safely at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach, California. The optical telescope and integrated science instrument module (OTIS) arrived at the facility on February 2 aboard a C-5 Charlie military aircraft.
“It’s exciting to have both halves of the Webb observatory – OTIS and the integrated spacecraft element – here at our campus,” said vice president and program manager for Webb at Northrop Grumman, Scott Willoughby. “The team will begin the final stages of integration of the world’s largest space telescope.”
OTIS was shipped from the NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston after the completion of its cryogenic testing. The testing subjected the telescope to the conditions it will face in the cold vacuum of space. Following the successful outcome of the cryogenic testing, OTIS was packed into a specially designed shipping container referred to as the Space Telescope Transporter for Air, Road and Sea (STTARS). Once aboard the C-5 Charlie transport, it was flown from Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base to Northrop Grumman’s Space Park facility.
Northrop Grumman and NASA engineers will now go about the task of integrating OTIS with the spacecraft element of the Webb Space Telescope. Following the completion of this process, the combined vehicle will undergo exhaustive testing referred to as observatory-level testing.
Once launched, the James Webb Space Telescope will become the world’s premier infrared space observatory. Webb is scheduled to be launched in 2019 from Kourou, French Guiana.
Image Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn