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The Spoils of Spaceflight

Space-faring artifacts sold at an April auction drew bucks big and small

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Photo: Bonhams
This lapel pin, which sold for $5185, flew on Apollo 13 and comes from astronaut Fred Haise’s collection. Snoopy was adopted as NASA’s “manned flight awareness” mascot to get kids and the public interested. Apollo crews took the pins with them into space, then gave them to members of the ground crew who exemplified exceptional support. Receiving a Snoopy pin was considered a high honor.
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Two men fix metal rods to a gold-foiled satellite component in a warehouse/clean room environment

Technicians at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif., work on a mockup of the JWST spacecraft bus—home of the observatory’s power, flight, data, and communications systems.

NASA

For a deep dive into the engineering behind the James Webb Space Telescope, see our collection of posts here.

When the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reveals its first images on 12 July, they will be the by-product of carefully crafted mirrors and scientific instruments. But all of its data-collecting prowess would be moot without the spacecraft’s communications subsystem.

The Webb’s comms aren’t flashy. Rather, the data and communication systems are designed to be incredibly, unquestionably dependable and reliable. And while some aspects of them are relatively new—it’s the first mission to use Ka-band frequencies for such high data rates so far from Earth, for example—above all else, JWST’s comms provide the foundation upon which JWST’s scientific endeavors sit.

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