Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and its subcontractors have advanced development on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) by delivering the telescope's secondary mirror segment for grinding and polishing.
The beryllium secondary mirror segment will collect light from the telescope's 6.5-meter primary mirror. It was delivered to Ball Aerospace subcontractor L-3 Communications SSG-Tinsley, from subcontractor, Axsys Technologies, Inc. This follows the February delivery to Axsys of the final segment of JWST's primary mirror, one of 18-segments that will also undergo grinding and polishing. Assembly of the telescope's structural components by Ball Aerospace will follow grinding and polishing of the optical surface.
"Ball Aerospace and its subcontractors continue to meet the intricate, yet rigorous requirements associated with JWST's optical design," said David L. Taylor, president and chief executive officer of Ball Aerospace. "Our company's long involvement in building instruments for space telescopes contributes to the program's consistent on-schedule progress."
The circular-shaped secondary mirror segment is 0.74 meters in size, and weighs approximately 8.5 kilograms or only 19 pounds after light-weighting. Early in JWST's design, the metal beryllium was chosen to achieve JWST's light weight, as it is also good at holding its shape across a range of temperatures, and has a successful track record of performing on space telescopes at cryogenic temperatures, needed for JWST's infrared observations.
Ball Aerospace is the principal optical subcontractor for the JWST program, led by prime contractor Northrop Grumman Space Technology, under a contract from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, MD. A tertiary mirror, plus flight spares, will be delivered to Ball Aerospace from its mirror manufacturing team that includes Brush Wellman, Axsys Technologies and L-3 Communications. As each mirror is delivered to Ball Aerospace over the next four years, it will be mounted onto a lightweight, actuated strong- back assembly and undergo functional and environmental testing.
JWST is designed primarily to detect light from the first stars and galaxies that formed in the early Universe, connecting the Big Bang to our own Milky Way Galaxy. Launch is scheduled for 2013.
Ball Aerospace supports critical missions of important national agencies such as the Department of Defense, NASA, NOAA and other U.S. government and commercial entities. The company develops and manufactures spacecraft, advanced instruments and sensors, components, data exploitation systems and RF solutions for strategic, tactical and scientific applications. Over the past 50 years, Ball Aerospace has been responsible for numerous technological and scientific "firsts" and now acts as a technology innovator for the aerospace market.
Ball Corporation (NYSE: BLL) is a supplier of high-quality metal and plastic packaging products and owns Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Ball reported 2006 sales of $6.6 billion and employs 15,500 people.
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