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Proceedings Paper

Technical and cost advantages of silicon carbide telescopes for small-satellite imaging applications
Author(s): Keith J. Kasunic; Dave Aikens; Dean Szwabowski; Chip Ragan; Flemming Tinker
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Paper Abstract

Small satellites (“SmallSats”) are a growing segment of the Earth imaging and remote sensing market. Designed to be relatively low cost and with performance tailored to specific end-use applications, they are driving changes in optical telescope assembly (OTA) requirements. OTAs implemented in silicon carbide (SiC) provide performance advantages for space applications but have been predominately limited to large programs. A new generation of lightweight and thermally-stable designs is becoming commercially available, expanding the application of SiC to small satellites. This paper reviews the cost and technical advantages of an OTA designed using SiC for small satellite platforms. Taking into account faceplate fabrication quilting and surface distortion after gravity release, an optimized open-back SiC design with a lightweighting of 70% for a 125-mm SmallSat-class primary mirror has an estimated mass area density of 2.8 kg/m2 and an aspect ratio of 40:1. In addition, the thermally-induced surface error of such optimized designs is estimated at λ/150 RMS per watt of absorbed power. Cost advantages of SiC include reductions in launch mass, thermal-management infrastructure, and manufacturing time based on allowable assembly tolerances.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 September 2017
PDF: 17 pages
Proc. SPIE 10402, Earth Observing Systems XXII, 104020C (5 September 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2274048
Show Author Affiliations
Keith J. Kasunic, Optical Systems Group, LLC (United States)
Dave Aikens, Savvy Optics Corp. (United States)
Dean Szwabowski, Aperture Optical Sciences Inc. (United States)
Chip Ragan, Aperture Optical Sciences Inc. (United States)
Flemming Tinker, Aperture Optical Sciences Inc. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10402:
Earth Observing Systems XXII
James J. Butler; Xiaoxiong (Jack) Xiong; Xingfa Gu, Editor(s)

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