James Webb Space Telescope

James Webb Space Telescope

It's impossible to solve the mysteries of the Universe. Until it's not.

Fully assembled view of a space telescope in manufacturing plant

What is Webb?

Northrop Grumman leads the industry team for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the largest, most complex and powerful space telescope ever built.

The Webb Telescope will fundamentally alter our understanding of the universe. Northrop Grumman is focused on ensuring that this once unthinkable achievement becomes a reality. Identified as a top priority for astronomy and astrophysics by the National Research Council, the Webb Telescope is a key program for NASA and the scientific community and is central to the nation's ground- and space-based astrophysics program.

Discover Webb

White female technician completes an operation on a space telescope

How will Webb Define Possible?

NASA's 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.

Webb will make observations once thought to be impossible; multiple new technologies had to be invented simply to build it. The groundbreaking mirror and powerful instruments will discover and study distant planetary systems, analyzing the molecular composition of extrasolar planets' atmospheres and directly imaging Jupiter-size planets orbiting nearby stars.

Webb will also look deep into the past, to a time when the earliest stars and galaxies were born. By extending our knowledge of the cosmos, the Webb telescope will help us answer the compelling questions, “How did we get here?” and “Are we alone?”

The Webb Team

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 is designing and building the deployable sunshield, providing the spacecraft and integrating 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