COM DEV Ottawa begins production on JWST sensor

Engineers at COM DEV’s optical design facility in Ottawa have begun production ARTISTRENDITION5-189X170.JPGwork on a fine guidance sensor (FGS) that has been booked aboard the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), touted as the successor to Hubble. With $39 million in financing from the Canadian Space Agency, COM DEV’s Space Science division will build on the design and engineering work it has been focused on since 1998, producing an FGS designed to keep the telescope pointed with a precision that would allow it to lock onto a point the width of a hair from 3 km away and perform at temperatures as low as -230C. The FGS will also feature a tunable filter imaging camera to provide narrow-band, scientific imaging capability. The production mandate is the first for the Cambridge, Ont.-based company’s Ottawa facility, which plans to add six employees to its current staff of 50 to meet the workload. “Being entrusted with such a crucial role on a high profile international program like the JWST represents a very powerful endorsement of COM DEV’s space optics and electronics capabilities,” says Mike Pley, president of COM DEV. “This project will establish COM DEV’s Ottawa location as a trusted engineering, assembly and test facility with the capacity to take on the design and build of future complex electro-optical space instruments. We are very pleased to solidify our presence in a community that offers an exceptional pool of highly skilled technical talent capable of supporting our continued growth.” A collaborative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the CSA, the US$4 billion JWST, with a mirror 5.5 times larger than Hubble’s, will be the biggest space telescope ever built. Orbiting 1.5 km above Earth, it will probe the universe to provide further understanding of the origins of the universe, galaxies, stars, and planets. JWST is scheduled for launch in 2013.

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