Space Foundation Press Releases

Coherent Loans James Webb Space Telescope Demonstration Mirror to Space Foundation Discovery Center

Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — April 9, 2024 — Space Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 1983, offering education, collaboration and information for the global space ecosystem, today announced an agreement with Coherent (NYSE: COHR) for the company to provide on loan a demonstration mirror developed for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The mirror will be displayed at Space Foundation Discovery Center in Colorado Springs.

The JWST launched on Dec. 25, 2021, after a 25-year construction project heralded as one of the most complex and ambitious undertakings in engineering and space exploration history. The telescope almost immediately revolutionized our understanding of the universe, much like the Hubble Space Telescope did, by providing unprecedented clarity and depth in its observations of the early universe, star and planet formation, and other key astronomical phenomena. Its observations are highly anticipated by the scientific community and are expected to yield groundbreaking discoveries in the years to come.

“Coherent’s iconic prototype hexagonal mirror is not only a testament to the technological expertise behind the James Webb Space Telescope but also a symbol of the collaborative spirit driving humanity’s exploration of the universe,” said Rachel English, Space Foundation Discovery Center senior curator. “We are honored to have this piece on display where it will undoubtedly inspire curiosity and ignite imaginations of Discovery Center visitors for years to come.”

The JWST mirrors represent the most visible feature of the telescope. The 6.5 meter (21.3 feet) primary mirror is comprised of 18 hexagonal segments made from beryllium and coated in gold to maximize reflectivity in the infrared spectrum. The Coherent contribution to the mirror assembly consisted of the atomic engineering of the surface and applying advanced thin film coatings to assure durability of the JWST hexagonal mirror segments as well as the secondary, tertiary and fine steering mirrors. The technology innovations necessary to complete the mirrors represent a series of engineering achievements that crossed over to commercial markets, including the OLED display panel manufacturing for mobile devices.

“The iconic hexagonal segments that form the primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope comprise one of the highest performance of large-scale imaging optics used in space-based imaging,” said Dr. Chris Koeppen, chief innovation officer and senior vice president of the Coherent Aerospace & Defense Business Unit. “We are proud of our successful history in custom and large-format optics and successfully supplying optical and thermoelectric solutions in over 100 space missions.”

The JWST demonstration mirror will be transferred to Space Foundation Discovery Center on Tuesday, April 9, 2024, in a brief ceremony at the 39th Space Symposium, and attendees are invited to join Coherent and Discovery Center representatives for this ceremony, which will take place at 4 p.m. MDT.

About Coherent

Coherent empowers market innovators to define the future through breakthrough technologies, from materials to systems. We deliver innovations that resonate with our customers in diversified applications for the industrial, communications, electronics and instrumentation markets. Headquartered in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, Coherent has research and development, manufacturing, sales, service, and distribution facilities worldwide. For more information, please visit us at

About Space Foundation 

Space Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in 1983, offering education, collaboration and information for the global space ecosystem. Driven by partnerships, Space Foundation unites the entire spectrum of stakeholders — business, government, education and local communities — through support from corporate members, sponsors, fundraising and grants. Visit Space Foundation at, and follow us on Facebook, X, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.


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Tags: Space Foundation, Space Symposium, Space Foundation Discovery Center, Coherent, James Webb Space Telescope, JWST, space ecosystem, space innovation, STEM education, space exploration, science center, space museum, space education

Media Contacts:

Rich Cooper
Vice President, Strategic Communications & Outreach
Space Foundation
(202) 596-0714
[email protected]

Dottie O’Rourke
TECHMarket Communications
(650) 344-1260
[email protected]

Amy Wilson
Manager, Corporate Communications
[email protected]