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A "Critical" Lift for the Webb Telescope Mirrors | by James Webb Space Telescope
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A "Critical" Lift for the Webb Telescope Mirrors

A forklift gently moves a shipping canister that holds one of the flight mirrors that will fly aboard NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. The canister reads "Critical Space Flight Hardware."


Two flight mirrors arrived at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. on Sept. 17, 2012 and were being moved from a large moving truck into NASA's giant clean room. They traveled from Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colo. who manufactured the mirrors and packed them.


The powerful primary mirrors of the James Webb Space Telescope will be able to detect the light from distant galaxies. The Webb telescope has 21 mirrors, with 18 primary mirror segments working together as one large 21.3-foot (6.5-meter) primary mirror. The mirror segments are made of beryllium, which was selected for its stiffness, light weight and stability at cryogenic temperatures. Bare beryllium is not very reflective of near-infrared light, so each mirror is coated with about 0.12 ounce of gold.


The Webb telescope is the world’s next-generation space observatory and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Webb telescope will provide images of the first galaxies ever formed, and explore planets around distant stars. It is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.


Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn


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Taken on September 17, 2012