Made In Space, Inc. continues the development of an in-space manufacturing architecture for precision long-baseline structures that support space interferometry missions in the infrared. In-space manufacturing and assembly of interferometer structures optimized for the target environment dramatically reduce the system cost, mass, and areal density without sacrificing the structural control of the optical subsystems’ absolute positions. In this Phase II effort, full-scale Optimast beam prototypes are produced and mirror alignment is demonstrated to nanometer precision. This work is essential to the successful incorporation of Optimast technology in future space science and commercial interferometry missions.
Future missions for detecting and characterizing new worlds and faint distant objects require much larger effective apertures than the current generation of space telescopes. Terrestrial telescopes also have large amounts of distortion that blur the viewing of these objects rendering them unusable for in-depth analysis. In-space manufacturing using space-rated polymers provides mission-optimized structural baselines for infrared interferometry missions that are lower in mass and complexity than traditional hinged trusses or deployable booms.
An Optimast-SCI satellite optimized for space situational awareness (SSA) and wide-field Earth surface observation is possible with a 50-meter optical baseline. This system has a limiting resolution of only 25 centimeters from a 36,000-kilometer Geosynchronous Orbit (GEO). Such a satellite is capable of both rapid response inspection of satellites and at-will observation of the facing hemisphere.