IR HiRel Powers up the James Webb Space Telescope

By Chad Cox

Associate Editor

Embedded Computing Design

December 30, 2021


IR HiRel Powers up the James Webb Space Telescope
Photo Courtesy of NASA

When NASA decided they wanted to design and launch the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), IR HiRel was called on to supply mission-critical radiation-hardened (rad hard) components for the JWST.

Previously, IR HiRel provided rad hard power electronics for the Hubble Space Telescope launched in 1990.

With an international collaboration with ESA and the Canadian Space Agency, JWST will be the premier space observatory for the foreseeable future. The JWST will broaden Hubble’s discoveries to better facilitate the understanding of cosmic history while also searching for signs of life among the recently discovered exoplanets.

Within the telescope, the integration of IR HiRel space-grade DC-DC converters, rad hard MOSFETs, and other power control products ensure that the spacecraft bus subsystems, such as electrical power, altitude control, communications, and command and data handling, are functioning as expected out in the edge of space.

“With JWST expected to operate 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, it will face deep space conditions far more extreme than Hubble,” said Chris Opoczynski, Senior Vice President and General Manager of IR HiRel. “The spacecraft bus provides vital support functions for the telescope’s operation, not the least of which is power distribution, command, control and data handling, etc. Using IR HiRel’s rad hard power conversion solutions provides assurance of long-lived, highly reliable performance for this historic mission.”

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