What’s Next For NASA’s Webb Space Telescope

Space.com reports:

Three days after launch, the pallet holding Webb’s huge sunshield — a five-layer structure designed to keep the infrared telescope and its instruments cool — will be lowered.

Each of the shield’s five sheets is about the size of a tennis court when fully extended, far too wide to fit inside the payload fairing of any currently operational rocket. So the sunshield launched in a compact configuration and must be unfurled.

This is an incredibly complex process. The sunshield structure has 140 release mechanisms, 70 hinge assemblies, 400 pulleys, 90 cables and eight deployment motors, all of which have to work properly for the five layers to deploy as planned, NASA officials said.

Read the full article. Fascinating stuff.