The October 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

The Spoils of Spaceflight

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

0 min read

Photo: Bonhams
Apollo astronauts signed and distributed space-themed envelopes to their families to serve as creative forms of life insurance; in the event that the astronauts didn’t return, their families were to sell the envelopes to provide for themselves. This one, which sold for $6710 at auction, was signed by the Apollo 11 crew and postmarked in Houston on 20 July 1969, the day Apollo 11 landed on the moon.
The Conversation (0)
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.

Keep Reading ↓Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":[]}