How is a space telescope assembled in orbit? Over 5 meters, you have to know how to "shrink" and have your own robot arm.


In fact, both space telescopes and spacecraft can be assembled using space assembly techniques. While many technical problems remain, most of the preparations are complete and space telescopes can be obtained in space Repairs and upgrades. Robots and robotic arms can be of great help in this process.

Produced by: Space Icarus

Whether on Earth or in space, the need for telescopes is as great as possible. But for giant space telescopes, it's hard to find a suitable launcher, so they have to be collapsed into a 5-meter-high launcher. Rectifier. And the next James Webb Space Telescope is the biggest limitation to launching into space. So to better explore space, the next generation of telescopes will be assembled in space. In 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was in the Discovery spacecraft, completing the assembly of the 2.4-meter reflector and other equipment. And the Herschel Infrared Observatory, with its 3.5-meter main mirror and other instruments, almost didn't fit in the Ariane 5 ECA rocket. 4.6 m high in the launch fairing. Over 5 meters you will also need to know how to shrink, and for larger telescopes, you will need to bring your own robotic arm to do the assembly on the track yourself.

Note: What the Webb telescope looks like assembled on the ground, but not in the rocket fairing!

Note: The Webb telescope is being folded to fit into the rocket fairing.

Note to the figure: Space environment testing after initial folding

The next-generation Webb Space Telescope, with its 6.5-meter mirror and huge sun shield, also needs to be folded into the Ariane5. Rocket. When it reaches the Sun-Earth Lagrange L2 point, it will begin to assemble all the structures. A total of 40 different structures need to be assembled up to 20 times and all 178 release mechanisms are guaranteed to work. There is no room for error in the assembly process, and any errors are irreversible. In the next decadal survey, the most important problems to be solved in astronomy, and the equipment needed to solve them, will be the scientific targets. In any case, the next telescopes must be super-giant, and they will be difficult to fold into the 5-meter launch fairing, so they must be To be assembled in space.

Webb Space Telescope and the Wide-field Infrared Survey Telescope, which will serve as the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA began using space-based tectonic methods to study telescope space assembly techniques as of May 2018, a study consistent with the Multiple agencies collaborated in order to figure out the best time to assemble the giant telescope in space and perfect the technology.

Figure Note: Webb telescope integrated into rocket fairing

Figure Note: The Weber telescope looks like a shrinking machine in a rectifier

In the decades-long history of space assembly technology, the most successful mission was the assembly of the International Space Station. The assembly process lasted two decades and endured more than thirty separate assemblies, all of which, thanks to the combined efforts of the astronauts and remote robotic arm Modules are completed fixed in the space station. There are still many technical and hardware improvements to be made in the process. The Hubble Space Telescope is also a very successful example of a space telescope, where technology and hardware and other areas were improved during this assembly process. Leaving humans behind, robots play an important role in the daily maintenance of the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope, working with the The space capsule that transports the supplies is docked.

To solve the problem of the best time to assemble in space, the researchers designed the Giant Space Telescope and grounded the space-based tectonic methods and Traditional construction methods were compared. It is a telescope with a diameter of 5-20 meters and is able to see various wavelengths of light, which is currently the case for all emission rectifiers. Can't accommodate the size. The 20-meter-diameter telescope will be launched to the solar-terrestrial Lagrange L2 point and will be capable of observing exoplanets. All components, like the structural frame, telescope segments, etc., need to fit into the 5-meter launch rectifier. The spacecraft bus and other electronics and robotic arms will be launched into the assembly orbit, followed by the other components. tracks, and the robotic arm assembles them. After completing the assembly and being able to reach the Solar Terragrangian L2 point with less propellant, the telescope can then begin to operate and observe .

Note: Hubble telescope is folded on the ground to fit into the space shuttle cargo bay.

Note: Hubble telescope is folded on the ground to fit into the space shuttle cargo bay.

In fact, both space telescopes and spacecraft can be assembled using space assembly techniques. While many technical problems remain, most of the preparations are complete and space telescopes can be obtained in space Repairs and upgrades. Robots and robotic arms can be of great help in this process. The cost of some elements can be saved when the telescope is split into multiple parts, but in order for the Webb Space Telescope to be placed in the launch fairing It costs the engineer more to create the lightest release mechanism. In a super-heavy rocket, the limit is a telescope that has been folded to a diameter of 15 meters, but if it is assembled in space, then this The size of the telescope would be infinite.

Note to the figure: Satellite in the fairing

The telescopes assembled in space are easy to perform maintenance and refueling tasks because of the robotic arm. The arm will go into hibernation while completing its task and will not be awakened until the telescope needs to be serviced, for example. Also, splitting the telescope into multiple parts ensures that in the event of a rocket launch failure, the mechanism loses only a single component rather than the whole thing. Binoculars. Researchers say that space assembly technology is consistent with the laws of physics and that, overall, space assembly technology can save a lot of money and Maintenance costs. But for now, NASA says the space assembly technology needs further validation before the mission can be carried out. With the successful launch of the Webb Space Telescope, the Space Telescope ended the era of ground-based assembly and ushered in a new era of space-based assembly, and As technology advances, the space telescopes of the future will become larger and larger.

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