Johnston Technologies and the James Webb Space Telescope

How Did Johnston Technologies Play a Role in the James Webb Space Telescope?

Johnston Technologies provides critical, uninterruptible power supply technology to some of the most influential companies in the world. One of which, Axsys Technologies, recently made headlines as being a crucial step in the building of the James Webb telescope, launched by NASA on December 25th, 2021.

Located in Cullman, AL, Axsys Technologies was the second stop of the 18 beryllium mirror segments during their fabrication. Backed by Johnston Technologies’ uninterruptible power supplies, Axsys Technologies was able to form the mirrors and the mirror structure without power interruption.

What is the James Webb Space Telescope?

The James Webb Space Telescope is a large infrared telescope that utilizes hexagon shaped beryllium mirrors. Named after former NASA administrator James Webb, the telescope will be the successor to the Hubble Telescope, launched in 1990.

James Webb Space Telescope's primary mirror at NASA Goddard. The secondary mirror is the round mirror located at the end of the long booms, which are folded into their launch configuration. Webb's mirrors are covered in a microscopically thin layer of gold, which optimizes them for reflecting infrared light, which is the primary wavelength of light this telescope will observe.Photo: NASA/Chris Gunn
James Webb Space Telescope’s primary mirror at NASA Goddard. The secondary mirror is the round mirror located at the end of the long booms, which are folded into their launch configuration. Webb’s mirrors are covered in a microscopically thin layer of gold, which optimizes them for reflecting infrared light, which is the primary wavelength of light this telescope will observe.Photo: NASA/Chris Gunn

Together, the 18 mirror segments will combine to measure 21 feet 4 inches across, almost 3 times as large as the Hubble Telescope. This design will allow the James Webb Space Telescope to see objects as far as 13 billion light years away.

NASA states:

Webb will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our 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 our own Solar System.

https://webb.nasa.gov/content/about/index.html

What Role Did Axsys Technologies Have During Building James Webb?

Axsys Technologies had an early role in the lifespan of the telescope’s mirror. Axsys received the 18 hexagonal mirror blanks from Ohio where the mined beryllium was pressed into blank panels. Once received, Axsys shaped the mirror blanks into their final shape by cutting away the back of the mirror blank into a thin rib structure. This lightweight design will provide structure to the mirror and keep it’s shape steady while in use.

Pictured is the back of the mirror blank, which is carved out in this pattern to make the mirror segment light, yet maintain its integrity. Credit: Axsys Technologies
Pictured is the back of the mirror blank, which is carved out in this pattern to make the mirror segment light, yet maintain its integrity. Credit: Axsys Technologies

Johnston Technologies’ Role

Johnston Technologies provided two Galaxy PW 225kVA uninterruptible power supplies to Axsys Technologies. The Galaxy PW, rated to 100% Load Step capabilities, was at the time was the only manufactured UPS rated to withstand the instantaneous step load produced by Axsys’ machines while in use.

Designed for 8 minute battery runtime, this UPS system gives Axsys both the clean power, instantaneous step load, and battery runtime needed to work their machines to their full capability.