5 September 2017 Technical and cost advantages of silicon carbide telescopes for small-satellite imaging applications
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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.
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Keith J. Kasunic, Keith J. Kasunic, Dave Aikens, Dave Aikens, Dean Szwabowski, Dean Szwabowski, Chip Ragan, Chip Ragan, Flemming Tinker, Flemming Tinker, } "Technical and cost advantages of silicon carbide telescopes for small-satellite imaging applications", Proc. SPIE 10402, Earth Observing Systems XXII, 104020C (5 September 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2274048; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2274048
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