Press Release

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Marks Milestone With Completion of Huge Assembly Stand for Flight Optics

By SpaceRef Editor
April 6, 2011
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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Marks Milestone With Completion of Huge Assembly Stand for Flight Optics

A giant structural steel frame used to assemble the eye of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has been completed by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) teammate ITT at a facility in Syracuse, N.Y. Northrop Grumman is leading the design and development effort for the space agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

With this milestone, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems and ITT have completed each of the major elements of equipment required to complete the assembly of the optical flight telescope. In addition to completing the assembly stand, ITT has spent the last 12 months incrementally building and demonstrating the mirror installation equipment.

“We now have the platform to assemble the flight hardware and a precision robotic arm, thanks to the excellent work of our partner, ITT,” said Scott Willoughby, Webb telescope director, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “Completing the assembly stand is a significant step forward in the observatory’s integration and test phase.”

“ITT has provided precision systems that help the scientific world view and gather images and data from space for more than 50 years,” said Rob Mitrevski, vice president and general manager, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance systems, ITT Geospatial Systems. “We are proud of this important achievement and our role with the Webb telescope, which will provide unprecedented images of the universe’s first stars and galaxies.”

The 139,000 pound, U-shaped assembly stand is built to support the weight of the entire optical telescope — a load of more than 3.7 metric tons. The platform is 24 feet high, 52 feet wide and 41 feet long. The robotic arm, mounted on a track above the face-up mirror, extends to 12 feet and moves up and down and side to side over a 30 foot x 30 foot area, installing the 18 mirror segments with micro-positioning capability.

The platform will be painted to minimize contamination, shipped to Goddard Space Flight Center, and installed in the clean room where the telescope will be assembled. Installation of the assembly stand will be followed by the integration and certification of the mirror installation equipment.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s next-generation space observatory and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The most powerful space telescope ever built, Webb will observe the most distant objects in the universe, provide images of the very first galaxies ever formed and study planets around distant stars. The Webb Telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

ITT Geospatial Systems (, headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., is a global supplier of innovative night vision, remote sensing and navigation solutions. ITT Geospatial Systems solutions range from image and data capture through processing and dissemination. Using our technologies, customers can move beyond mere image acquisition to image interchange and true knowledge sharing.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 75,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide. Please visit for more information.

CONTACT: Mary Blake
Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems
(310) 812-6291 office
(424) 254-6170 mobile

Irene Lockwood
(585) 269-5517 office
(585) 465-3592 mobile

SpaceRef staff editor.