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Vibration Test Status

Updated Feb 21, 2017

The JWST team completed vibration testing of the telescope on February 17, 2017. After some planned reconfiguration of the clean tent currently covering the telescope it will be moved into the GSFC acoustics chamber where it will be exposed to the noise that arises from an Ariane 5 launch. Following that acoustics test - which will take several days - it will be moved back into the large clean room at Goddard. There it will undergo detailed measurements and deployment testing to verify the vibration and acoustics tests have not adversely affected the flight hardware prior to shipment to the Johnson Space Center for cryogenic testing.

 

Updated Feb 7, 2017

NASA Restarts Rigorous Vibration Testing on the James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope team has successfully completed the second horizontal axis vibration test on February 2, 2017. The telescope will now be moved to the vertical shaker table for the third and final vibration test at the Goddard Space Flight Center.

 

Updated Jan 23, 2017

After numerous tests plus data and modeling analyses, the James Webb Space Telescope team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland have attributed the testing anomaly detected on December 3, 2016 to 'gapping', or extremely small motions, in one primary mirror wing launch restraint mechanism. These restraint mechanisms keep the mirror wings in place during launch. NASA is working with the launch provider, Arianespace to ensure that the vibration testing program will adequately test the Webb payload with the expected launch vibration environment. The science payload has been both visually and ultrasonically inspected and no damage was found. The vibration test program was restarted and, over the weekend, the team successfully conducted the first of three axis vibration tests, with the second to start this week. The mission continues to be on track and within budget for a 2019 launch.

 

Updated Jan 03, 2017

NASA's Webb Telescope to Resume Vibration Testing in January

Vibration tests are one of the many tests that spacecraft and instruments endure to ensure they are fit for spaceflight. During routine testing of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, an unexpected response occurred from several of the more than 100 devices designed to detect small changes in the motion of the structure. This prompted the engineers put the vibration tests on hold to determine the cause.

Since then, the team of engineers and scientists have analyzed many potential scenarios for the measured responses. They are closer to pinning down the cause, and have successfully conducted three low-level vibrations of the telescope.

All visual and ultrasonic examinations of the structure continue to show it to be sound.

"Currently, the team is continuing their analyses with the goal of having a review of their findings, conclusions and plans for resuming vibration testing in January," said Eric Smith, program director for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, NASA Headquarters in Washington.

"This is why we test -- to know how things really are, as opposed to how we think they are," said Paul Geithner, deputy project manager - technical for the Webb telescope at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

During the vibration testing on Dec. 3 at NASA Goddard, accelerometers attached to the telescope detected unexpected responses and consequently the test shut itself down to protect the hardware.

The test shut itself down in a fraction of a second after a higher-than-expected response was detected at a particular frequency of vibration, about one note lower than the lowest note on a piano.

At NASA, vibration and acoustics test facilities provide vibration and shock testing of spaceflight hardware to ensure that functionality is not impaired by severe launch and landing environments. Launches create high levels of vibration in spacecraft and equipment and ground testing is done to simulate that launch induced vibration. Vibration testing is done on components as small as a few ounces to as large as complete structures or systems.

By performing the vibration testing on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, scientists and engineers can ensure that the spacecraft and all of its instruments will endure the launch and maintain functionality when it is launched from French Guiana in 2019.

"The Webb telescope is the most dynamically complex test article ever tested at Goddard, so the responses were a bit different than expected," Geithner said.

Further testing may or may not reveal additional unexpected responses, but that is the purpose of these tests. If additional anomalies are detected, they can be corrected before launch.

For more information about vibration testing, visit:
https://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/pdf/639713main_Vibration_Testing_FTI.pdf

 

Updated Dec 23, 2016

The James Webb Space Telescope is undergoing testing to make sure the spacecraft withstands the harsh conditions of launch, and to find and remedy all possible concerns before it is launched from French Guiana in 2019. During the vibration testing on December 3, at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, accelerometers attached to the telescope detected anomalous readings during a particular test. The team is making good progress at identifying the root cause of the vibration anomaly. They have successfully conducted two low level vibrations of the telescope. All visual and ultrasonic examinations of the structure continue to show it to be sound. Currently, the team is continuing their analyses with the goal of having a review of their findings, conclusions and plans for resuming vibration testing in January.

 

Updated Dec 16, 2016

The James Webb Space Telescope is undergoing testing to make sure the spacecraft withstands the harsh conditions of launch, and to find and remedy all possible concerns before it is launched from French Guiana in 2019. During the vibration testing on December 3, at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, accelerometers attached to the telescope detected anomalous readings during a particular test. Further tests to identify the source of the anomaly are underway. The engineering team investigating the vibe anomaly has made numerous detailed visual inspections of the Webb telescope and has found no visible signs of damage. They are continuing their analysis of accelerometer data to better determine the source of the anomaly. They have conducted a low-level vibration of the hardware to measure its responses, and are comparing the results with data obtained prior to the anomaly. Engineers are currently running diagnostics to determine the cause and to assess any potential impacts. We will provide updates as they are available.

 

Updated Dec 7, 2016

The James Webb Space Telescope is undergoing testing to make sure the spacecraft withstands the harsh conditions of launch, and to find and remedy all possible concerns before it is launched from French Guiana in 2019. During the vibration testing on December 3, at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, accelerometers attached to the telescope detected anomalous readings during a particular test. Further tests to identify the source of the anomaly are underway. Engineers are currently running diagnostics to determine the cause and to assess any potential impacts. We will provide updates as they are available.