James Webb Space Telescope Team To Receive Collier Award

The $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope is the largest and most complex space observatory in history.

For the last time on Earth, the James Webb Space Telescope’s sunshield was deployed and tensioned by testing teams at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California, where final deployment tests were completed. [Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn]

The James Webb Space Telescope Team will receive the 2022 Robert J. Collier Award, the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) announced Wednesday.

For more than a century, the Collier Award has been awarded to recognize the previous year's greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in the U.S. Collier recipients include Orville Wright in 1913, Chuck Yeager in 1947, and the NASA/Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) Ingenuity Team in 2021. 

"The James Webb Space Telescope is appropriately placed among these history makers for its unprecedented discovery mission to explore, identify and photograph what lies beyond what is currently known and to seek what is unknown," NAA said in a statement.

The $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope is the largest and most complex space observatory in history. It was built by a team led by Northrop Grumman in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“The James Webb Space Telescope is nothing short of a scientific feat, and is a shining example of what NASA can accomplish when we push the boundaries of space exploration,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. “From discovering some of the earliest galaxies ever observed to delivering a more detailed view of exoplanet atmospheres than ever before, it’s all due to the hard work and dedication of the exceptional Webb team. Congratulations on this well-deserved honor!”

Last summer, its first images were released, showing a deep field view taken by the telescope's Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam). It’s a composite made from images at different wavelengths, totaling 12.5 hours— achieving depths at infrared wavelengths beyond the Hubble Space Telescope’s deepest fields, NASA said at the time.

“The James Webb Space Telescope is one of the greatest achievements in aerospace history," Kathy Warden, chair, CEO, and president of Northrop Grumman, said in a statement. "In a matter of months, Webb has changed our understanding of the universe, and many more discoveries lie ahead.

"We dedicate the Collier Trophy to the Northrop Grumman employees and our industry partners who delivered humanity an extraordinary observatory to explore the universe and inspire future generations,” Warden added.

The Collier Trophy will be presented during the NAA Gala in Washington, D.C. on June 15, 2023.

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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