NASA today announced a major milestone in the development of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the selection of a beryllium-based mirror technology for the telescope's 6.5-meter primary mirror.
The JWST prime contractor, Northrop Grumman, recommended to NASA the mirror technology, supplied by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation, be selected for the JWST primary mirror.
Northrop Grumman made the recommendation following a detailed process that took advantage of insights from a panel of experts representing the contractor team, NASA and the science community. Two mirror technologies, beryllium and ultra low-expansion glass, were tested, and their implementation plans were thoroughly reviewed during a six-month evaluation. Technical performance, manufacturing schedule, facilities, staffing, and cost were factors taken into consideration.
The production of the beryllium-based mirrors will begin within the next year. The mirrors will be incorporated into optical assemblies, mounted on the telescope structure, and subjected to a series of tests at cryogenic temperatures, individually and as an integrated system.