Despite numerous delays, funding crises, and technical challenges, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is almost ready.
Every single component is fully built, assembled, and integrated.
Rigorous pre-launch testing can maximize our chances for Webb’s success.
The stowed telescope must survive harsh launch conditions without sustaining damage.
From its spaceborne environment, all components must then properly deploy.
The primary mirror segments must unfold, aligning to within 20 nanometer tolerance.
All 5 sunshield layers must unfurl without catching, ripping, or tearing.
Earlier testing exposed vulnerabilities that could arise during launch-and-deployment.
Subsequent structural corrections and improvements were then implemented.