RMI proposes to innovate on previous intermediate aperture off-axis designs used by NASA for flight LiDAR applications by utilizing a Maksutov-Cassegrain inspired beam expander in line with the 20x150mm requirement requested for Phase 1 but focused on it's applicability, scalability, and manufacturability for the Phase II objective of a potential space based 0.5 m system with similar parameters. RMI will be leveraging it's current work on a system with similar requirements used by NASA that utilizes off-axis aspherical optics. These optics must be produced freeform by CNC systems (diamond turning) and are very labor intensive and aperture restricted in practice. By switching to a spherical design the cost, manufacturability, and physical scale of a system becomes far less restricted. Aberrations are controlled by selective use of refractive surfaces in combination with reflective ones to achieve a low dispersion (but correctible), athermalized, flight hardened, high-power ready optical system with looser alignment tolerances and more precisely manufacturable components.
Other groups within NASA are currently contracting with RMI to manufacture similar designs for aircraft based LiDAR applications.
A substantial opportunity for use in target marking and directed energy applications may exist outside NASA's use case.