NASA says the James Webb telescope has hit an important milestone for the 2021 launch

The James Webb Space Telescope has hit another important milestone paving the way for its launch next year. NASA described the performance Friday, explaining that the Webb team was able to open and tighten the telescope’s solar sight. The sunshield goes through the same process in space, beginning mission years in manufacturing.

The James Webb Space telescope features a large solar view designed to protect the telescope by reflecting background heat and light from the Sun. By doing this, NASA will ensure that the space telescope stays cool enough to provide observations in infrared light.

The sunshield has five layers and extends to about the size of a tennis court, making the stretching and stretching process particularly difficult. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center manager of the Webb telescope solar sight, James Cooper, said:

Congratulations to the whole team. Due to the large size of Webb and strict performance requirements, its use is very complex. In addition to the required technical knowledge, this set of tests required meticulous design, determination, patience and open communication. The team has proven that he has these qualities. It’s amazing to think the next time Webb’s sunshield is used it will be miles away, hurting through space.

The difficult process involved sending commands to the hardware, activating a series of motors and actuators among thousands of other parts to extend the shield. The effort was particularly difficult because, unlike space, Earth’s gravity caused friction as a complex factor. But by carrying out the activity on Earth, it reduced the risk of something unexpected happening in space.