NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, built in partnership with Northrop Grumman Corporation, has been selected to receive the 2023 Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy, the highest honor from the National Space Club and Foundation.
The award recognizes NASA and the industry team led by Northrop Grumman for their extraordinary contributions to U.S. leadership in the field of astronautics. The Goddard Trophy will be presented at the National Space Club and Foundation’s annual Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Dinner in Washington on March 10.
“The Webb team embodies a pioneering spirit that pushed engineering to new levels and is now defining a new era of astronomical discovery,” said Scott Willoughby, vice president, program excellence for space systems, Northrop Grumman.
To enable the observatory’s ambitious scientific mission, Northop Grumman and partners invented 10 technologies, including revolutionary optics, detectors, thermal control systems, a deployable sunshield, cryocooler technologies and the manufacturing of a lightweight composite backplane to carry the weight of Webb’s mirror, telescope optics and scientific instruments.
In 2022, over the course of two weeks after its historic launch, Webb flawlessly deployed its sunshield and mirrors during a series of complex deployments and maneuvers, the first of its kind ever attempted in space. After achieving its final configuration, the team made a series of fine adjustments to the telescope’s optics to bring the telescope’s optical train into precise alignment. The team then tested Webb’s state-of-the-art scientific instruments and brought them to operational temperature, all necessary to begin Webb’s historic mission.
Northrop Grumman leads the industry team for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the largest, most complex and powerful space telescope ever built. The company was recently awarded a sustainment contract by NASA to continue support through June 24, 2027. Northrop Grumman will provide the products and services required to monitor and maintain Webb spacecraft systems including the spacecraft bus, optics/telescope, and sunshield; maintain and update the spacecraft flight software; and trend spacecraft performance and recommend corrections and updates required for spacecraft health and safety.
NASA heads an international partnership that includes the European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency. The Goddard Space Flight Center manages the Webb Telescope project, and the Space Telescope Science Institute is responsible for science and mission operations, as well as ground station development.