Massive Space Telescope Is Finally Coming Together

Jan 25, 2016

Photo credit: Chris Gunn/NASA

By Geoff Brumfiel

This week, NASA is set to reach a milestone on one of its most ambitious projects. If all goes to plan, workers will finish assembling the huge mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope — an $8 billion successor to the famous Hubble telescope.

“So far, everything — knock on wood — is going quite well,” says Bill Ochs, the telescope’s project manager at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

The massive mirror is being built in a facility that’s essentially a giant, ultra-clean gymnasium. NPR can’t go inside for risk of contamination, but I meet crew chief Dave Sime at an observation deck where we can see the mirror below. Sime works for the contractor Harris Corp., and he’s normally in there assembling it. When he is, he has to wear a white suit that covers every inch of his body.

“The only thing exposed is your eyes,” he says. (Spacecraft assembly pro tip, he adds: To use your cellphone in the clean area, try a Bluetooth headset under your protective clothing.)


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3 comments on “Massive Space Telescope Is Finally Coming Together

  • “So far, everything — knock on wood — is going quite well,” says Bill Ochs, the telescope’s project manager at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

    Probably not what I want to hear from a supposedly rational evidence base scientist in charge of this telescope.



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  • knock on wood – Ochs

    F Collins (frozen waterfall) doppelgänger? Maybe – ‘knock on wood’, colloquial phrase to buffer a statement. If Ochs has a rabbit foot hanging from rearview car mirror, my eyebrows would raise.

    ‘Millennials’, rejecting religion, probably don’t engage in superstition/woo, at least that’s my impression.



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