15 June 2006 Novel in-space manufacturing concepts for the development of large space telescopes
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There is a continuous demand for larger, lighter, and higher quality telescopes. Over the past several decades, we have seen the evolution from launchable 2 meter-class telescopes (such as Hubble), to today's demand for deployable 6 meter-class telescopes (such as JWST), to tomorrow's need for up to 150 meter-class telescopes. As the apertures continue to grow, it will become much more difficult and expensive to launch assembled telescope structures. To address this issue, we are seeing the emergence of new novel structural concepts, such as inflatable structures and membrane optics. While these structural concepts do show promise, it is very difficult to achieve and maintain high surface figure quality. Another potential solution to develop large space telescopes is to move the fabrication facility into space and launch the raw materials. In this paper we present initial in-space manufacturing concepts to enable the development of large telescopes. This includes novel approaches for the fabrication of the optical elements. We will also discuss potential optical designs for large space telescopes and describe their relation to the fabrication methods. These concepts are being developed to meet the demanding requirements of DARPA's LASSO (Large Aperture Space Surveillance Optic) program which currently requires a 150 meter optical aperture with a 16.6 degree field of view.
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J. T. Mooney, J. T. Mooney, P. J. Reardon, P. J. Reardon, D. Gregory, D. Gregory, A. Manning, A. Manning, J. B. Blackmon, J. B. Blackmon, T. Howsman, T. Howsman, P. Williams, P. Williams, W. Brantley, W. Brantley, J. M. Rakoczy, J. M. Rakoczy, K. Herren, K. Herren, D. Tucker, D. Tucker, A. Sharma, A. Sharma, "Novel in-space manufacturing concepts for the development of large space telescopes", Proc. SPIE 6265, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation I: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter, 62652W (15 June 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.672255; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.672255

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