Traditional imaging spacecraft are fixed in specific orbits and can be costly to reorient, or require a long development time prior to launch. In contrast, small spacecraft adhering to the CubeSat standard, can be built much more quickly and reach orbit as secondary payloads on a wide array of launch vehicles.
Despite their broad use within the university and scientific communities, the unique potential nanosatellites offer for high-quality, low-cost, rapid deployment imaging applications has not yet been successfully realized.
A wealth of key technologies have been developed within the nanosatellite community to include propulsion, ADCS, launch systems, and communications that enable low cost, rapid deployment, with precision spacecraft positioning and orientation capabilities. These innovations integrated with a deployable telescope yield a compact imaging system with unprecedented mission flexibility and performance for a fraction of the cost of a standard imaging system.
The ability to integrate a 15-20 cm telescope in a 6U nanosatellite demonstrates the applicability of nanosatellites for space science, operational, and exploration applications heretofore requiring larger platforms, and showcase low-cost integrated optical technologies. The goal of this project is to construct high fidelity tabletop deployable telescope structures. The products of this project include: low fidelity optical components to verify and refine deployment; selection and integration of sunshade and baffle material; validation of deployed telescope truss tube stiffness and repeatability to determine collimation requirements; preliminary design of primary and secondary mirrors, and the identification of optical and baffling tolerances requirements.