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Northrop Grumman, ATK Complete Backbone Of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope

REDONDO BEACH, Calif., June 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and teammate ATK (NYSE: ATK) have completed manufacturing of the backplane support frame (BSF) for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. Northrop Grumman is under contract to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., for the design and development of the Webb Telescope's optics, sunshield and spacecraft.


Photos accompanying this release are available at

When combined with the center section and wings, the BSF will form the primary mirror backplane support structure (PMBSS). In March 2013, the backplane's two wings were completed. The center section was completed in April 2012. The BSF is now being integrated with the previously completed center section to form the complete backplane.

The PMBSS is the stable platform that holds the telescope's beryllium mirrors, instruments and other elements. It holds the 18-segment, 21-foot-diameter primary mirror nearly motionless while the telescope is peering into deep space. The backplane support frame is the backbone of the observatory, is the primary load carrying structure for launch, and holds the science instruments.

"This is the largest optically stable cryostructure that has ever been built," said Gregory Young, Acquisition manager for Northrop Grumman. "With the completion of the frame, the structural backbone of the observatory is now ready for integration."

Measuring approximately 24 ft. tall by 19.5 ft. wide by more than 11 ft. deep when fully deployed, and weighing only 2,180 lbs., the fully assembled primary mirror backplane support structure will include the wing assemblies, the center section and the BSF. This fully populated PMBSS will support the mission payload and instruments weighing more than 7,300 lbs., or more than 300 percent its own weight.

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