Modern-day space exploration is flourishing, as new technological advances offer a look into parts of space scientists have yet to see. One of the most recent advancements — the James Webb Telescope — took nearly 30 years and $10 billion to build and was officially launched in December 2021. Images it recently downloaded include never-before-seen footage of what may be the two most distant galaxies ever discovered. The Webb telescope is expected to show footage of planets, stars, black holes, and more that existed 100-250 million years after the Big Bang at distances of hundreds of light years from earth.
Webb Telescope Structure
Twenty-foot fold-out photovoltaic solar panel arrays provide the telescope with 2,000 W of electrical power.
The spacecraft bus (another part of the Webb Telescope structure) is the home of subsystems such as thermal control, electrical power, communication, propulsion, altitude, and command and data handling. It is important to note that a sun shield is needed to keep the heat away from the OTE and ISIM because these instruments must remain very cold.
All of these systems require reliable electrical connector solutions that meet space-application requirements.
Material Constraints for the James Webb Telescope
Materials used in the Webb telescope must be highly reliable in harsh environments, including extremely cold temperatures. For example, light-sensitive sensors in the MIRI operate below 7 K. Reliability, in general, is vital because nothing can be done if something breaks a million miles away in space. For such reasons, materials chosen for use in the Webb Telescope were engineered to last up to 10 years due to harsh conditions. Materials must also meet strict outgassing requirements.
There are even more constraints when it comes to electrical connectors for applications similar to the James Webb Telescope. These can include EMI shielding, lightweight, corrosion resistance, and resistance to shock, vibration, and impact.
Connector Solutions for Space Applications
Many space-grade connector solutions are available today that are ideal for a variety of applications used in space. For example, PEI-Genesis carries D-Subminiature connectors from ITT Cannon. As an extremely versatile solution, these D-Subs fit a wide range of applications and come in an array of styles, sizes, configurations, and accessories. More specifically, these interconnects fit satellites, launchers, exploration vehicles, payloads, and space hotels.
PEI-Genesis also carries the MACH-D Series from Positronic, offering high-performance space-grade connector solutions for military and spaceflight applications. MACH-D also provides outstanding EMI shielding protection and electromagnetic compatibility while protecting against shock, vibration, and impact. Read below for more information from one of our PEI experts, Todd Maddox.
PEI-Genesis also provides a full range of Amphenol D38999 Circular Mil-Spec Connectors, including the JT (Series II), LJT (Series I), and TV (Series III). These circular connectors are ideal for space applications with their rugged, environmentally sealed design. In fact, they provide highly reliable performance in even the harshest of environments.
The Conesys D38999 Series I, II, and III are widely used in the aerospace industry because they are durable, corrosion resistant, lightweight, and fully qualified to MIL-DTL-38999 Standards. They also offer shock resistance and EMI/RFI shielding.
PEI-Genesis: Your Space-Grade Connector Partner
At PEI-Genesis, we understand the demands of space applications, which is why we stay on top of the latest advancements in space travel and exploration and offer a wide range of space grade connector solutions. PEI-Genesis can successfully outgas a connector within hours at our manufacturing facilities so that they meet the necessary standards. View our Space Videos HERE or read more about our space capabilities on our BLOG (search “space”).