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James Webb Space Telescope mirror construction at the halfway stage

29 December 2015

Inside NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre's clean room in Greenbelt, Maryland, the ninth flight mirror is installed on the telescope structure using a robotic arm.

A rare overhead shot of the James Webb Space Telescope shows the nine primary flight mirrors installed on the telescope structure (photo: Chris Gunn/NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre)

This marks the halfway completion point for the James Webb Space Telescope's segmented primary mirror - a total of 18 mirror segments will complete the telescope structure.

The engineering team is using a robotic arm to lift and lower the hexagonal-shaped segments that measure just over 1.3m across and weigh approximately 40kg. After being pieced together, the 18 primary mirror segments will work together as one large 6.5m mirror. The full installation is expected to be completed early in 2016.

The engineering team is seen using a robotic arm to lift and lower the ninth hexagonal-shaped mirror segment (photo: Chris Gunn/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

The mirrors were built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., in Boulder, Colorado. Ball is the principal subcontractor to Northrop Grumman for the optical technology and lightweight mirror system. The installation of the mirrors onto the telescope structure is performed by Harris Corporation of Rochester, New York. Harris Corporation is leading the integration and testing of the telescope.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the scientific successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

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