AXAF is scheduled to fly into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in September 1998.
These instruments cover a broader energy range than those aboard AXAF, but none of them produce particularly sharp images.
By the end of the year, the first scientific results from AXAF and FUSE will begin to roll in, joining the steady stream of discoveries from Hubble and the other orbiting eyes.
The thermal vacuum test was run with the 39-foot tall AXAF placed in a large sealed chamber that was pumped down to simulate the vacuum of space.
Since the AXAF instruments are designed to operate in a vacuum, this thermal vacuum test is the last time prior to launch when its key functions can be tested in a realistic environment.
The AXAF thermal vacuum testing process also provided opportunities for the operators of the AXAF Operations Control Center (OCC) in Cambridge, Mass.
The AXAF High Resolution Mirror Assembly (HRMA), the optical heart of NASA's third Great Observatory, was delivered on May 6 to TRW's Space Park satellite integration facilities in Redondo Beach.
AXAF is scheduled to be launched from the Space Shuttle in August 1998.
We are delighted with the timely completion of the HRMA's X-ray testing and its delivery to TRW," said Ed Wheeler, TRW's AXAF program manager.
TRW Space & Electronics Group is building AXAF for NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
TRW expects to begin assembling and testing the AXAF spacecraft during spring 1997, with integration of the spacecraft with its X-ray telescope and science instruments slated to begin in the fall of 1997.
The mirrors must be precisely aligned to focus X-rays from celestial sources onto science instruments located at the other end of the AXAF telescope.