James Webb Space Telescope

Making Space History Requires Mission Success

Northrop Grumman is proud to lead the industry team of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope — the largest, most complex and powerful space telescope ever built. Webb will fundamentally alter our understanding of the universe and we are focused on ensuring that this once unthinkable achievement becomes a reality. Webb pushes the limits of technology. We only get one chance to get it right — and we take that responsibility seriously. From putting men on the moon, to seeing the first images from Hubble, there are many great firsts in space. When Webb travels one million miles from Earth and peers back over 13.5 billion years to see the first stars and galaxies forming out of the darkness of the early universe, we will marvel at its discoveries and write the next chapter of great firsts in space. Making space history requires mission success, and we are all in.

How does the James Webb Space Telescope Work

The Webb Telescope will use its superb angular resolution and near-infrared instruments to discover and study planetary systems similar to our own, analyze the molecular composition of extrasolar planets’ atmospheres, and directly image Jupiter-size planets orbiting nearby stars.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope: Letting Astronomers Peer into the Early Universe

By extending our knowledge of the cosmos, the Webb Telescope will play an important role in our quest to answer the compelling questions “How did we get here?” and “Are we alone?”

The Search for Earth 2.0

The search for life beyond Earth is one that has fueled science and the imagination. Planet-hunting spacecraft, such as the Kepler Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope, have been able to identify thousands of new planets beyond our solar system, but only a few are within the habitable zone of the star they orbit. Finding extraterrestrial life is not an easy task, but it is one researchers are well-equipped to pursue. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will be another powerful tool in the search for life.

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The Search for Earth 2.0

The James Webb Space Telescope Team

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) leads an international partnership that includes the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is managing the Webb Telescope project, and the Space Telescope Science Institute is responsible for science and mission operations, as well as ground station development.

As the prime contractor to develop the James Webb Space Telescope, Northrop Grumman will design and build the deployable sunshield, provide the spacecraft and integrate the total system. The observatory subsystems are developed by a Northrop Grumman-led team with vast experience in developing space-based observatories:

  • Ball Aerospace: Optical design, mirrors, wavefront sensing, and control design and algorithms
  • Harris Corporation: Optical telescope integration and testing
  • University of Arizona: Near-Infrared Camera
  • European Space Agency (ESA): Near-Infrared Spectrograph
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), ESA: Mid-Infrared Instrument
  • Canadian Space Agency (CSA): Fine Guidance Sensor with Tunable Filter Module


The Northrop Grumman engineers behind the James Webb Space Telescope have no easy task. It has taken one hundred million hours of people’s lives to build the largest, most complex and powerful space telescope ever built. Hear from the engineers who take pride in what they’re accomplishing — writing the next chapters of space history.

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Careers in Space

If you’d like to explore a career helping unravel the mysteries and technical challenges of space exploration, please introduce yourself to us.

Learn more about our current related careers.