Flight International online news 12:30GMT: NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) team have completed the initial step in manufacturing all the primary mirrors for the next-generation space observatory's telescope - an important program milestone.

James Webb Space Telescope - BIG
Full-scale model of the JWST.                                       Source: Northrop Grumann

Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor, leading the JWST design and development effort.

In the first major step, molten beryllium was compressed into 18 hexagonal units called "blanks," weighing 553 pounds and measuring 1. 5 meters (nearly five feet) from end-to-end.

These blanks are now moving through the second step in the fabrication process, precision machining and etching.

The mirror manufacturing process, which takes about 53 months, is being performed by Brush Wellman Inc. in Ohio, Axsys Technologies in Alabama and Tinsley Laboratories in California under contract to Northrop Grumman's lead optical contractor, Ball Aerospace & Technologies. Brush Wellman was responsible for the initial mirror manufacturing.

On orbit, JWST will peer into the infrared at great distances to search for answers to astronomers' fundamental questions about the birth and evolution of galaxies, the size and shape of the universe and the mysterious life cycle of matter. The space-based observatory will reside in an orbit 940,000 miles from Earth at the L2 Lagrange point.



Source: Flight International