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NASA Completes Ground Segment Test for James Webb Space Telescope; Amanda Arvai Quoted

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James Webb Telescope
James Webb Telescope Space Telescope

NASA has concluded ground segment testing activities for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to demonstrate its capacity to respond to commands from space.

The agency said Monday it relayed maneuvering and operational commands from the Mission Operations Center at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md., as well as data from Northrop Grumman’s Deep Space Network emulator in Redondo Beach, Calif., during the assessment.

The ground systems test is meant to help NASA validate JWST’s components before sending the observatory to space where it will handle complex communication commands and data downlinks.

Amanda Arvai, deputy division head of mission operations at STScI, said the recently completed test serves as the first time the team tested both JWST’s flight hardware and ground system.

“This was also the first time we’ve demonstrated the complete cycle for conducting observations with the observatory’s science instruments,” she noted.

The recent milestone comes a month after NASA completed initial full-systems assessments for JWST and announced plans to launch the telescope within the March to October 2021 window.