THIS WEEK @NASA: Hubble Passes One-Billion Second Mark, Deployments for the Webb Space Telescope

By  //  January 8, 2022

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ABOVE VIDEO: A week of deployments for the James Webb Space Telescope, another remarkable achievement for Hubble, and helping to improve launch safety … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

A Week of Deployments for the Webb Space Telescope

The team for our James Webb Space Telescope spent the week deploying various components on the next-generation space observatory.

On Jan. 4, they finished deploying Webb’s 70-foot sunshield, which protects the telescope from the light and heat emitted by the Sun, Earth, and Moon.

The sunshield provides a level of protection that would be on the order of more than SPF 1 million if it were sunscreen lotion.

The next day the team began operations to deploy the Secondary Mirror Support Structure. The secondary mirror plays an important role in reflecting the light from the primary mirror to the science instruments that sit behind the primary mirror.

There is another 5 1/2 months of setup activities before Webb will be ready to deliver its first images.

Our “Where is Webb?” site at features an infographic that shows the status of Webb as it makes its way to its final science destination about one million miles from Earth.

Hubble Passes One-Billion Second Mark

Our Hubble Space Telescope rang in the new year by officially passing the one-billion second mark of its remarkable mission in space. Hubble was deployed and began operating on April 25, 1990, more than 31 years or one billion seconds ago. Hubble’s first one billion seconds included five astronaut servicing missions to the telescope, and more than 1.5 million scientific observations and counting!

Supercomputers Predict Vibrations for Orion Launch Abort Scenarios

Our Ames Research Center in California is using cutting-edge computational fluid dynamics software and supercomputers to better understand how vibration levels during various launch abort scenarios might affect the Orion spacecraft’s launch abort system. The colors in the visualizations indicate different degrees of pressure. The launch abort system is designed to safely pull Orion and astronauts inside the spacecraft away from the Space Launch System rocket in a split-second if an emergency happens during launch.

Environmental Assessment for Proposed New Launch Site

In response to an inquiry from SpaceX, NASA is preparing to conduct environmental assessments to develop Launch Complex 49, a proposed new launch site at our Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The 175-acre site, located north of Launch Complex 39B, would support the launch and landing of the company’s Starship and Super Heavy launch vehicle. NASA and SpaceX are moving forward with the initial environmental analysis before concluding a potential agreement to develop the property.

Upgrades for X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Aircraft Simulator

Recent upgrades to the flight simulator for NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology aircraft are helping test pilots at our Armstrong Flight Research Center in California train in the most robust, realistic system possible. The upgrades accurately replicate the flight controls, instrumentation, avionics, and cockpit of the X-plane, so that pilots can effectively practice flying in various situations and scenarios. The X-59 is designed to reduce the loudness of sonic booms that can occur during supersonic flight. Research from the project could help open the future to commercial supersonic flights over land.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA