James Webb Space Telescope uncovers massive sunshield in next step of risky deployment

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope removes the covers from its sunshield in this animation of the critical deployment step that occurred in space on Dec. 30, 2021. (Image credit: NASA)

The James Webb Space Telescope has unwrapped its sunshield, crossing another important item off of its lengthy and risky deployment to-do list.

After successfully extending its deployable tower assembly (DTA), a structure that connects Webb’s two halves, on Thursday (Dec. 29), the telescope had the room to begin the preliminary steps to unfurl its gigantic sunshield. Today (Dec. 30), mission teams completed two major next steps: deploying the James Webb Space Telescope‘s aft momentum flap and releasing the sunshield’s protective membrane cover.