Summer 2012

TenCate prepregs for James Webb space telescope

High-performance composite materials from TenCate Advanced Composites in Fairfield (California, US) will be used in the construction of the sunshield deployment structure of the James Webb space telescope, the world’s premier astrophysics observatory.

Picture: NASA

TenCate Advanced Composites USA is the leading supplier of composite prepregs to the North American satellite industry. TenCate composite materials are used in almost all western satellite programmes and Mars reconnaissance vehicles.

The TenCate Advanced Composites facility in California (US) has provided pre-impregnated composite materials for the sunshield of the new James Webb space telescope, under contract to Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems and its business unit Astro Aerospace. The high-performance composites that will be utilized on these sunshield tubes or masts are more than twice as stiff as the advanced composites that are used on commercial aircraft.

A one third scale model of the sunshield (picture: NASA)

The shield measures 24 by 12 metres – the size of a tennis court. It is also 12 metres high. Composite materials from TenCate will be used for the tubes of the sunshield.

The new space telescope is the world’s premier astrophysics observatory. The ‘James Webb’ will be built and maintained by NASA, with the help of the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. The telescope is named after the former president of NASA, James Webb. It will be able to look back in time to 13.5 billion years ago, when stars, galaxies and planets were formed in the early universe.

Blue fabric (Tecawork Blue 65287)