WASHINGTON — As NASA marks the latest milestone in the ongoing testing of the James Webb Space Telescope, agency officials are downplaying any additional delay to the troubled mission caused by the recent government shutdown.
NASA announced Feb. 8 that prime contractor Northrop Grumman recently completed a series of acoustic and vibration tests of the spacecraft element of JWST, which consists of the spacecraft bus and sunshield. Those tests were intended to simulate the environment JWST will experience during its launch on an Ariane 5 rocket.
It was during an earlier series of acoustics tests last spring where technicians discovered fasteners in the sunshield coming loose. This prompted several months of work to modify the spacecraft, compounding other delays in the overall program. NASA said there were no problems with the fasteners in these latest tests.
Those tests continued during the 35-day partial government shutdown that closed most of NASA in December and January. It wasn’t clear, though, what other effects the shutdown had on the JWST program.
A Northrop Grumman spokesperson referred questions on the JWST schedule to NASA. Rob Gutro, a NASA Goddard Space Flight Center spokesperson, said Feb. 4 that it was too soon to know what ...