Optical engineers often limit their focus on meeting the provided targets on performance and geometry and assume that the specifications are largely non-negotiable. Such approach ignores the value proposition behind the product and the challenges associated with overall product design, manufacturing, business development and legal issues. As a result, the design effort can be expensive, time consuming and can result in product failure. We discuss a product based systems engineering approach that leads to an application specific optical design that is more effective and efficient to implement.
This presentation will cover 64 years of experience with telescopes, optical components, optical coatings, large optics, optical fabrication, lasers and related subjects. It will focus on five topic areas paying special attention to critical lessons learned in these areas. Part 1 will cover contributions and inherent value of mentoring in optical and astronomical sciences. This will include specific personal experiences and valuable lessons learned from teachers and mentors going back to the beginning of the space age and the first satellites. It will also cover selected examples from the author’s mentoring and community optics and astronomy outreach efforts. Part 2 will delineate the lessons learned from the investigation and independent expert review and assessment of optical damage incidents over a period of five decades. It will also recount frequent optical misconceptions that have negatively impacted efficient system development and implementation over the years and how to avoid them. Part 3 will consist of a short tutorial on the tools, techniques, and the “how and why” of optical inspection. This will be interlinked with the previous optical damage and mistakes topic, where possible. Part 4 will consist of the author’s involvement and experiences in optical education with emphasis on the founding and early years of the University of Arizona Optical Sciences Center, now the College of Optical Sciences. Part 5 will cover the enduring issues and challenges for managers, planners and contributing scientists for large optics and telescope projects. This brief overview will follow up and expand upon the author’s presentation on this topic at the 1985 “SPIE Optical Fabrication and Testing Workshop: Large Telescope Optics”, Albuquerque, NM. Throughout all topic areas presented, the author will stress the lessons learned and the value of these lessons to the planning, management and successful execution of future optics projects and programs.
Establishing San Diego as the venue for SPIE annual meetings was an activity loaded with unusual efforts and imagination on the part Joe Yaver, his wife, Anita, and some southern California members. Of interest is the origin (and retention) of SPIE as a name for the organization. Few know the associated logo has real technical meaning. Then there was moving SPIE headquarters to Bellingham, Washington, to complicate things.
This set of Lessons Learned concentrates on four key messages. There are a thousand stories that
go along with these messages, but please understand they are partially configured stories to make
sure that the points are understood. In going from a technology to a product some of the key
● Know where you're going
● Go fast
● Stay nimble because change is okay
● And no matter what you do, no matter how much you plan, surprises never stop
Again, the events that I describe are an edited work, creatively augmented, and may not reflect the
versions of actual events. Likewise, the photographs are representative and may or may not depict
actual events. I think that will protect those involved.
I have two subjects I want to talk about today – one is on some historical experiences, and the other is about mistakes made in the development of high-performance optical systems, develop of functional requirements and flow-downs, identification of design approaches for an instrument, etc. One thing I'm working on relates to polarization and how it affects radiometry and the image quality of an optical system and so we’ll spend a little bit of time talking about that. Finally, though the HST failure has been widely covered, a few additional comments are probably also worthy of mention.
Thank you very much for coming to attend this talk. I see a few familiar faces in the crowd that have had their own journeys, and if you're thinking of starting your own optics business, this is not the authoritative talk on how to do. It’s just a talk on what I've learned from my journey and some of my own stories on Lessons Learned. It does tie into some of the previous talks, and I do give credit to some mentors. The developments I’ve been involved with do make use of the ability to adapt and change, and there have been Bumps in the Road here and there, and I'll tell you a little bit more about that during this Talk.
Brutus to Cassius in Julius Caesar: “There is a tide in the affairs of men which taken at the flood leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.” – W. Shakespeare
Organizations that fail to use known near-miss data when making operational decisions may be inadvertently rewarding risky behavior. Over time such risk taking compounds as similar near-misses are repeatedly observed and the ability to recognize anomalies and document the events decreases (i.e., normalization of deviance [1,2,3]). History from the space shuttle program shows that only the occasional large failure increases attention to anomalies again. This paper discusses prescriptions for project managers based on several on-going activities at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) to improve the lesson learning process for space missions. We discuss how these efforts can contribute to reducing near-miss bias and the normalization of deviance. This research should help organizations design learning processes that draw lessons from near-misses.
Human fallibility is pervasive in the aerospace industry with over 50% of errors attributed to human error.
Consider the benefits to any organization if those errors were significantly reduced. Aerospace manufacturing
involves high value, high profile systems with significant complexity and often repetitive build, assembly, and test
operations. In spite of extensive analysis, planning, training, and detailed procedures, human factors can cause
unexpected errors. Handling such errors involves extensive cause and corrective action analysis and invariably
schedule slips and cost growth. We will discuss success stories, including those associated with electro-optical
systems, where very significant reductions in human fallibility errors were achieved after receiving adapted and
specialized training. In the eyes of company and customer leadership, the steps used to achieve these results lead to
in a major culture change in both the workforce and the supporting management organization. This approach has
proven effective in other industries like medicine, firefighting, law enforcement, and aviation. The roadmap to
success and the steps to minimize human error are known. They can be used by any organization willing to accept
human fallibility and take a proactive approach to incorporate the steps needed to manage and minimize error.
No one sets out to be a mediocre leader. Some teams work well and deliver products that are on time and meet requirements. Through observation of successful and less than successful teams, lessons can be learned that will allow others to get the most out of each other. The lessons can be summed up in a series of sound bites including “One is not done until everyone is done”, BKSS (Because K Said So), and “Trust but Verify” that serve as a reminder of lessons that were hard earned.
Modern optical engineering software has become very powerful and capable over the past 30 years, but the user must be knowledgeable about what the software is trying to say. In this paper, four examples of a complete misunderstanding of the software are presented with comments. Finally the story of the optical analysis of the ALPHA laser is presented as an example of initially not recognizing the significance of a software modeling result, and then realizing the mistake and correcting it months later.
This paper is about the development, design, fabrication and use of the KH-9 Hexagon spy in the sky satellite camera system that was finally declassified by the National Reconnaissance Office on September 17, 2011 twenty five years after the program ended. It was the last film based reconnaissance camera and was known by experts in the field as “the most complicated system ever put up in orbit.” It provided important intelligence for the United States government and was the reason that President Nixon was able to sign the SALT treaty, and when President Reagan said “Trust but Verify” it provided the means of verification. Each satellite weighed 30,000 pounds and carried two cameras thereby permitting photographs of the entire landmass of the earth to be taken in stereo. Each camera carried up to 30 miles of film for a total of 60 miles of film. Ultra-complex mechanisms controlled the structurally “wimpy” film that traveled at speeds up to 204 inches per second at the focal plane and was perfectly synchronized to the optical image.
This project was to design and build a protective weapon for a group of associations that believed in aliens and UFO’s. They collected enough contributions from societies and individuals to be able to sponsor and totally fund the design, fabrication and testing of this equipment. The location of this facility is classified. It also eventually was redesigned by the Quartus Engineering Company for use at a major amusement park as a “shoot at targets facility.” The challenge of this project was to design a “smart rock,” namely an infrared bullet (the size of a gallon can of paint) that could be shot from the ground to intercept a UFO or any incoming suspicious item heading towards the earth. Some of the challenges to design this weapon were to feed cryogenic helium at 5 degrees Kelvin from an inair environment through a unique rotary coupling and air-vacuum seal while spinning the bullet at 1500 rpm and maintain its dynamic stability (wobble) about its spin axis to less than 10 micro-radians (2 arc seconds) while it operated in a vacuum. Precision optics monitored the dynamic motion of the “smart rock.”
The purpose of this project was to design a “telescope” whose mirrors and support structures were all made of aluminum in order for it to remain in focus for all environmental temperatures. The telescope was mounted on a gimbal structure that was an elevation over azimuth assembly. The purpose of the telescope was to track in all directions in order to detect “enemy” activities such as visual or sound detection at the site of the telescope. The final assembly was eventually purchased by the Secession Activists of Quebec to scan all around for non-French speaking dissidents seeking to spy on them. It was also shipped to South Korea to detect activities by North Korea and shipped to Northern Ireland to spy on the British and finally it also was sent to a high altitude location in Israel. The peculiar thing about the one in Israel was that similar to reading and writing Hebrew from right to left, the telescope was only allowed to scan from right to left. Two unique mechanical designs involved in this telescope are discussed here. The first one is the design of a stop at each end of the azimuth travel that was greater than 360 degrees, and the second was the design of a gearing system that drove both elevation and azimuth assemblies with no backlash
In the latter part of the 1980’s, an all glass aircraft window, required for photography, was designed for 10,000 hours of
life under extreme environments, consisting of high altitude thermal gradients and high pressure differential. Further, the
window would need to survive its lifetime in the presence of airborne dust particles at high speed, runway sand and
debris, hailstone impact, and frequent handling and cleaning conditions, the latter of which could cause scratches.
Analysis showed a lifetime well in excess of 1,000,000 hours, but tests indicated failure times well below 1000 hours.
The apparent disconnect was due to the presence of residual stress, heretofore not considered. Additionally, premature
hailstone test failure required further assessment to ensure survivability. An extensive redesign resulted in the first ever
FAA approval for glass window design in a passenger cabin.
Over the years, the author has familiarized himself with far too many of the classic methods for turning a single optical element into any number of smaller pieces. In the vast majority of these cases the application of gravity was the destructive element. Resting a large lens on a yet unbeveled edge to produce the classic “clamshell” is a well known example. Another ever popular technique using gravity assist is trying to carefully pull one’s fingers out from under an optical element when placing it on a surface plate.
Cryogenic systems involving a pumped cryogenic fluid, such as liquid nitrogen (LN2), require careful design since the cryogen is close to its boiling point and cold. At 1 atmosphere, LN2 boils at 77.4 K (-320.4 F). These systems, typically, are designed to transport the cryogen, use it for process heat removal, or for generation of gas (GN2) for process use. As the design progresses, it is important to consider all aspects of the design including, cryogen storage, pressure control and safety relief systems, thermodynamic conditions, equipment and instrument selection, materials, insulation, cooldown, pump start-up, maximum design and minimum flow rates, two phase flow conditions, heat flow, process control to meet and maintain operating conditions, piping integrity, piping loads on served equipment, warm-up, venting, and shut-down. “Cutting corners” in the design process can result in stalled start-ups, field rework, schedule hits, or operational restrictions. Some of these “lessoned learned” are described in this paper.