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Proceedings Paper

Very large aperture optics for space applications
Author(s): Tom Horwath; J. P. Smith; M. T. Johnson
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Paper Abstract

A new type of space optics technology is presented which promises the realization of very large apertures (tens of meters), while packagable into lightweight, small volume containers compatible with conventional launch vehicles. This technology makes use of thin foils of circular shape which are uniformly mass loaded around the perimeter. Once unfurled and set into rapid rotation about the transversal axis, the foil is stretched into a perfectly flat plane by the centrifugal forces acting on the peripheral masses. The simplest applications of this novel technology are optically flat reflectors, using metallized foils of Mylar, Kevlar, or Kapton. Other more complex optical components can be realized by use of binary optics techniques, such as depositing holograms by selective local microscale removal of the reflective surface. Electrostatic techniques, in conjunction with an auxiliary foil, under local, distributed real-time control of the optical parameters, allow implementation of functions like beam steering and focal length adjustments. Gas pressurization allows stronger curvatures and thus smaller focal ratios for non-imaging applications. Limits on aperture are imposed primarily by manufacturing capabilities. Applications of such large optics in space are numerous. They range from military, such as space based lasers, to the civilian ones of power beaming, solar energy collection, and astronomy. This paper examines this simple and innovative concept in detail, discusses deployment and attitude control issues and presents approaches for realization.

Paper Details

Date Published: 30 September 1994
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 2210, Space Optics 1994: Space Instrumentation and Spacecraft Optics, (30 September 1994); doi: 10.1117/12.188132
Show Author Affiliations
Tom Horwath, TG&C Associates, Inc. (United States)
J. P. Smith, TG&C Associates, Inc. (United States)
M. T. Johnson, W.J. Schafer Associates, Inc. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2210:
Space Optics 1994: Space Instrumentation and Spacecraft Optics
Thierry M. Dewandre; Joachim J. Schulte-in-den-Baeumen; Emmanuel Sein, Editor(s)

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