James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

Harris engineers are helping build NASA's ultra-powerful James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which will provide unprecedented images of the universe's first stars and galaxies.

JWST Development and Integration

As part of the NASA/Northrop Grumman-led team, Harris is integrating components to form the optical telescope element, which will collect light and provide sharp images of deep space. After integration of the science instrument module, we will perform a series of optical tests at cryogenic temperatures to help ensure the optical telescope element will work properly in space.

We also developed the Focal Plane Assembly package on the near-infrared spectrograph detector, which will measure the redshift, metallicity, and star formation rate in first light galaxies.

The successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, the JWST is slated for launch in 2019. The JWST is a large, infrared-optimized telescope designed to study the formation of the first stars and galaxies, the evolution of galaxies, the production of elements by stars, and the process of star and planet formation. The JWST will be located much farther from Earth than Hubble, traveling 940,000 miles in space. It will contain a tennis court-sized sun shade that will keep the telescope cold, which is necessary for viewing infrared light. The JWST will be packed inside and carried into orbit aboard an expendable launch vehicle.

JWST's Primary Mirror Compared to Hubble

  • 2.5 times larger in diameter, or about six times larger in area
  • 1,000 times more sensitive in the infrared spectrum
  • The overall weight of the telescope will be significantly lighter due to ultra-thin, ultra-lightweight mirror segments that were unavailable when Hubble was built