Building the James Webb Space Telescope: Hubble's Successor (Gallery)

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope


NASA's successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, launches in 2018 and will peer back to discover the mysteries of the Big Bang. See photos of the space observatory's construction in our gallery here. (This slideshow, originally posted in August 2012, was updated Dec. 10, 2016).

Engineer and James Webb Space Telescope Mirror Segments

NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham

NASA engineer Ernie Wright holds a dramatic pose in front of the first six flight-ready James Webb Space Telescope's primary mirror segments at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Engineers began final round-the-clock cryogenic testing on the mirrors before integrating them into the telescope's structure.

Webb Telescope's Fine Guidance Sensor Moved into Position


It takes a lot of guidance to correctly move flight instruments. Critical lift operations involving flight instruments require patience, precision, and many pairs of eyes. This photo shows a number of them who are all involved in the operations of the Fine Guidance Sensor/Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS/NIRISS). Photo taken on August 7, 2012.

NIRSpec Microshutters for James Webb Space Telescope


Microshutters are a new piece of technology being used on the Near Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) instrument on Webb. NIRSpec is an instrument that will allow scientists to capture the spectra of more than 100 objects at once. Because the objects NIRSpec will be looking at are so far away and so faint, the instrument needs a way to block out the light of nearer bright objects. Photo taken June 23, 2012.

The MIRI Cleanroom Huddle

NASA/Chris Gunn

The MIRI Cleanroom Huddle: Although it appears that these six contamination control engineers are in a huddle around the James Webb Space Telescope's Mid-Infrared Instrument (or MIRI), they are conducting a receiving inspection. The instrument was delivered to NASA on May 29, 2012.

Testing the Webb Telescope

NASA/Chris Gunn

Several critical items related to NASA's next-generation James Webb Space Telescope currently are being tested in the thermal vacuum test chamber at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. Image released April 30, 2012.

The James Webb Space Telescope Backplane Pathfinder

Northrop Grumman

A technician examines the backplane pathfinder – a flight-like model of the center section of the Webb telescope backplane used to practice assembly and integration before the flight hardware is done. The gray fixture on top of the backplane is the backplane support fixture. Photo taken on April 30, 2012.

James Webb Space Telescope's Sunshield Membrane

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems

A full-scale JWST sunshield membrane deployed on the membrane test fixture at Mantech, Hunstville, ready for a precise measurement of its three dimensional shape. Photo taken on September 14, 2011.

NIRSpec Cryotank


Cryotank being prepared for installation of NIRSpec. Photo taken on July 21, 2011.

James Webb Space Telescope Secondary Mirror

Ball Aerospace

The James Webb Space Telescope secondary mirror just after gold coating at Quantum Coating Incorporated. Photo taken on July 19, 2011.

The ISIM Structure on the Centrifuge

Maggie Masetti

The Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) structure on the centrifuge for testing at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. It has just started spinning. Photo taken on May 24, 2011.

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