Inside NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s massive clean room in Greenbelt, Maryland, the ninth flight mirror was installed onto the telescope structure with a robotic arm. This marks the halfway completion point for the James Webb Space Telescope’s segmented primary mirror.
“The years of planning and practicing is really paying dividends and the progress is really rewarding for everyone to see,” said NASA’s Optical Telescope Element Manager Lee Feinberg.
In these NASA images, the engineering team is seen using a robotic arm to lift and lower the hexagonal-shaped segment that measures just over 4.2 feet (1.3 metres) across and weighs approximately 88 pounds (40 kilograms). After being pieced together, the 18 primary mirror segments will work together as one large 21.3-foot (6.5-metre) mirror. The full installation is expected to be complete early in 2016.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the scientific successor to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.