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James Webb Space Telescope Referred to as 'Most Complicated' | NASA Says There are Over 300 Ways It Could Fail


Urian B., Tech Times





(Photo : Image from Commons.Wikipedia.com) James Webb Space Telescope Referred to as ‘Most Complicated’ | NASA Says There are Over 300 Ways It Could Fail

The James Webb Space Telescope is now being referred to as the “most complicated” one yet. NASA is saying that there could actually be 300 ways that it could fail! The potential difficulties are expected to come out in the upcoming months.

James Webb Space Telescope

According to the story by Space, while NASA’s very own James Webb Space Telescope has reportedly faced a number of obstacles and delays in its over a decade making, this isn’t the end of the struggle. It was noted that the observatory’s most difficult days actually lie ahead in the upcoming months.

The James Webb Space Telescope is known to be a successor to the popular Hubble Space Telescope. It is set to launch on December 18, 2021, aboard the upcoming Ariane 5 rocket coming from the European Space Agency’s very own launch site located near Kourou, French Guiana.

14 Years in the Making

The particular development for the observatory, which is said to be the most powerful telescope ever built, started all the way back in 1996, with its initial launch planned for 2007. As of the moment, 14 years later, the finally completed telescope has been able to arrive at its very own launch site and is almost ready for liftoff.

It was noted that about 28 minutes directly after liftoff, Webb is expected to detach from its very own launch vehicle and start what was noted as the most complex sequence of deployments that was ever attempted in just a single space mission as per NASA. It was stated that the deployment, which will see Webb unfold as well as unfurl its sun shield once it is finally in space, will include literally hundreds of different single points of failure, as per Mike Menzel.

Lead Mission Engineer Mike Menzel

Mike Menzel is the Webb lead mission engineer for NASA’s very own Goddard Space Flight Center located in Maryland. According to Menzel, there are already 344 single-point-of-failure items on average.

It was also noted that about 80% of those are actually associated directly with the deployment. Menzel then said that it’s hard to avoid when users have a release mechanism. It was reportedly hard to put full redundancy into this.

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144 Release Mechanisms

Webb currently has 144 release mechanisms, as per Krystal Puga, which all should work perfectly. Krystal Puga is a Webb spacecraft systems engineer for Northrop Gruman, which reportedly built the spacecraft. Just recently, Boeing has been authorized to build and also launch its very own satellites.

Menzel reportedly explained that the team decreased the total number of release mechanisms as much as they were able to do so. It was noted that they were able to find a sweet spot between getting the needed control that they wanted along with the large flexible membranes. This is without adding too many different single points of failure.

Related Article: NASA’s First Lunar Ice-Drilling Experiment Now Has a Landing Site on the Moon

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Written by Urian B.

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