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The James Webb Space Telescope takes on a major hurdle: the heat shield is fully exposed and extended

The James Webb Space Telescope takes on a major hurdle: the heat shield is fully exposed and extended

The layers, which are as thin as a human hair, are now fully exposed and extended so that they are several tens of centimeters apart. Each layer is cooler than the previous layer and the temperature of the layer facing the sun can rise up to 125 degrees, while the temperature of the layer farthest from it can reach -235 degrees Celsius.

Hundreds of spools, many meters of cable, and many actuators were used to unwind the layers.

On Mondays, the first three classes opened and extended, the last two Tuesday mornings. The whole process took a day and a half, roughly half the time expected.

NASA broadcast the procedure live from the control room in Baltimore on the Internet. “The atmosphere was hard to describe, it was a wonderful moment,” said Hilary Stock, deployment manager for Northrop Grumman, NASA’s partner in developing the shield. “There was a lot of joy, a lot of relief. Everything went smoothly.”

Video from NASA (in English) about heat shield deployment, what is still being deployed and what remains to be done:

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