Posted by Courtney E. Howard
BOULDER, Colo., 13 Dec. 2011. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. has completed a preliminary design review (PDR) for the Membrane Optic Imager Real-Time Exploitation (MOIRE) program, for which Ball Aerospace is under contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Ball Aerospace demonstrated an imaging diffracted optical element (DOE) on a membrane. The DOE, with an 80-centimeter diameter and 32.5-meter focal length, is typical of what would be used for a 5-meter diameter telescope, says a spokesperson.
The goal is the development of a large, lightweight, geosynchronous space-based telescope using advanced diffractive optics membrane to provide persistent, real-time, tactical video to the war fighter.
The full system will use multiple membranes to form a collection aperture that is 20 meters in diameter. MOIRE seeks to validate the manufacturability of large membranes, large structures to hold the optics tight and flat, and also demonstrate the secondary optical elements needed to turn a diffraction-based optic (such as photon sieve) into a wide, bandwidth imaging device.
"The use of membrane optics is an unprecedented approach to building large aperture telescopes," says David L. Taylor, Ball Aerospace president and CEO. "With the technology being developed on the MOIRE program, Ball Aerospace is broadening its role in geosynchronous imaging."
In phase two of the program now underway, a sub-aperture section of a 5-meter diameter demonstration telescope will be designed and built. Five additional risk-reduction options in phase two of the program will be addressed prior to Ball building a flight demonstration.