Honeywell Marks Major Space Telescope Milestone

May 11, 2016

Honeywell Marks Major Space Telescope Milestone

The Integrated Science Instrument Module for the next-generation space telescope reached a major operational milestone recently when the ISIM successfully passed its pre-delivery review. The Honeywell Aerospace COM DEV International business unit developed the Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) and Near-Infrared Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) instruments, critical components of the Observatory section of the James Webb Space Telescope.

“This is a major step on the path to launch the JWST in 2018,” said David Aldridge, Honeywell COM DEV program manager. “Honeywell has a long record of guidance sensor and star-tracker development and we’re proud to have been selected by NASA and the Canadian Space Agency for this important work. All the credit for this accomplishment goes to the experienced and talented team of engineers and scientists that has worked on the FGS, dating back more than 15 years.”

Conceptual design work for the FGS started at COM DEV in 2001 and the preliminary design phase was finished in 2005. Detailed design was completed three years later. COM DEV manufactured and tested an Engineering Test Unit of the FGS which was delivered to NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center in September 2010. The flight unit manufacturing and testing phase was completed in July 2012.

Honeywell Aerospace acquired COM DEV in 2016. COM DEV is a leading global designer and manufacturer of space hardware and systems, including space-qualified passive microwave equipment, specialized electronics and optical subsystems.

The FGS/NIRISS consists of two Optical Assemblies mounted to a single primary structure, three sets of independent electronics and software applications that control the hardware. The FGS will enable continuous and highly accurate pointing information for the Observatory, which will allow the JWST to obtain the required image quality for all its science experiments. The NIRISS science instrument will provide unique observational modes for the Observatory, contributing to both extra-galactic and exo-planetary science.

The James Webb Space Telescope will be a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror. JWST will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of the universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of the Earth’s solar system.