In order to increase throughput and maximize sensitivity the next-generation of astronomical instrumentation is moving toward cryogenic, all-reflective, off-axis optical design solutions. These off-axis systems require mirrors which are produced with complex conic sections, demand a thermal optical performance at cryogenic temperatures, and must support lifetimes on the order of 5-10 years. SSG specializes in the design, development, fabrication and testing of off-axis, all-reflective optical systems, having produced > 40 such systems over the last 20 years. The majority of these system have been produced using nickel plated aluminum mirror substrates and aluminum metering structures in order to obtain a passively systems has long been a point of debate. In this paper we demonstrate the long term stability of nickel plated aluminum optics by presenting interferometric test data obtained on > 10 optical elements over a period of 10 years. Cryogenic stability is demonstrated by presenting system level wavefront data obtained over a wide thermal range down to 115K. In addition, we will present thermal test data obtained from a number of alternate metal optical materials: beryllium, bare aluminum, and aluminum/beryllium alloys.
This paper documents the development of the SPIRIT III telescope from the design through its test activities. The SPIRIT III Instrument is the primary infrared instrument on the Mid-Course Space Experiment (MSX). The telescope is an all reflective optical system consisting of twelve mirrors. The nominal collecting apertures is 14 inches. It was designed and built to integrate with a multicolor radiometer and a Michelson interferometer built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory at Utah State University. Key performance features are discussed, and measured test data is presented. The structural/thermal trade-off issues of a satellite-based cryogenic instrument are presented along with a review of the test techniques and test equipment.