Webb Space Telescope with DuPont Kapton® Polyimide Film Sunshield

A month following it’s Christmas Day 2021 launch, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is in the final phase of its preparations to uncover the mysteries of the universe.

It has successfully travelled the nearly one million miles—at 750 miles an hour—to reach its mission orbiting point. Flight engineers have also deployed the 18 gold-coated mirror segments that will help the telescope’s infrared camera capture pictures of the very first stars in the universe and allow scientists to study the atmospheres of planets orbiting stars outside of our solar system to determine whether they are habitable or inhabited.

Another successful step completed was the unfolding of the five-layered Kapton® polyimide film sunshield that will protect the telescope from the light and heat of the Sun, Earth and Moon. Folded origami-style into the mission payload, each sheet of Kapton® film is about as big as a tennis court and as thin as a human hair.

The sunshield is coated with reflective metal, providing protection on the order of more than SPF 1 million. Together, the five Kapton® layers of the sunshield will reduce exposure to the Sun from over 200 kilowatts of solar energy to a fraction of a watt.

For more details of how the Kapton® polyimide film sunshield works, watch this video https://youtube.com/watch?v=Ku9Lq3gSnLk&feature=share from NASA.


Mission officials say it will take an additional five months to cool the $10 billion telescope to operating temperature, modify the mirror alignment, and calibrate the instruments before JWST can start sending those amazing images back to earth this summer.