December 5, 2023

Webb Space Telescope’s Deployable Tower Assembly Extends in Space

Webb Central Tower deploymemt. Credit: NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab
Yesterday afternoon, the Webb team effectively extended the observatorys Deployable Tower Assembly (DTA), creating crucial distance between the two halves of the spacecraft.
The DTA extended about 48 inches (1.22 meters), putting space between the upper area of the observatory, which houses the mirrors and scientific instruments, and the spacecraft bus, which holds the electronic devices and propulsion systems. This produces enough distance to permit the delicate mirrors and instruments to cool off to the needed temperatures to identify infrared light. This space will also supply room for the sunshield membranes to totally unfold.
Engineers perform the last release test of the James Webb Space Telescopes Deployable Tower Assembly in June 2021 at Northrop Grumman Space Park in Redondo Beach, California. Credit: NASAs Goddard Space Flight

The deployment took more than six and a half hours, as engineers activated release devices and set up heaters, software application, and electronics, before commanding the DTA itself to extend. The group began the deployment at approximately 9:45 a.m. EST and completed it at roughly 4:24 p.m. EST

December 30, 2021