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NASA's James Webb Space Telescope's spacecraft element, which consists of the observatory's spacecraft bus and the sunshield, was put in the same folded-up configuration that it will be in when mounted on atop a rocket for launch in 2021.
Since Webb is too large to fit inside a rocket in its "deployed," or operational, form, it will be tested in its folded-up, or "stowed," launch configuration that takes up less space. Webb's enormous sunshield has to be elaborately folded and secured to both fit in the rocket's nose cone and be strong enough to survive the ride into space.
Weeks - Launch - Observatory - Transformation—unfurling - Configuration
In the two weeks after launch, the entire observatory will undergo a highly choreographed transformation—unfurling, extending and expanding to a configuration that is very different to how it looks when stored inside the rocket for liftoff.
In a photo taken in the clean room at Northrop Grumman Corporation in Redondo Beach, the last sunshield stowing step for the spacecraft element was completed, after engineers rotated the aft Unitized Pallet Structure (UPS) in a full upward position and locked it. There are two UPSs—a forward and...
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