An architecture and conceptual design for a robotically assembled, modular space telescope (RAMST) that enables extremely large space telescopes to be conceived is presented. The distinguishing features of the RAMST architecture compared with prior concepts include the use of a modular deployable structure, a general-purpose robot, and advanced metrology, with the option of formation flying. To demonstrate the feasibility of the robotic assembly concept, we present a reference design using the RAMST architecture for a formation flying 100-m telescope that is assembled in Earth orbit and operated at the Sun–Earth Lagrange Point 2.
We present a design algorithm to compute the positions of identical, hexagonal mirror segments on a spherical surface, which is shown to provide a small variation in gap width. A one-dimensional analog to the segmentation problem is developed in order to motivate the desired configuration of the tiling patterns and to emphasize the desire for minimizing segment gap widths to improve optical performance. Our azimuthal equidistant centroid tiling algorithm is applied to three telescope architectures and produces mirror segment arrangements that compare favorably with existing and alternative designs.