Compact Telescopes for Nanosatellites Could Collect Information for Remote Sensing Data Users

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, Inc. have formed a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) to develop innovative, compact, and robust telescopes for nanosatellites. The project will combine LLNL’s Monolithic Telescope (MonoTele) technology with Tyvak’s knowledge of high-reliability spacecraft production. It is expected that the advanced optical imaging payloads will be used in future to collect information for remote sensing data users.

“I’m excited about this technology transitioning from LLNL to space demonstration and eventual commercial use,” said Alex Pertica, the deputy program leader for LLNL’s Space Science and Security Program (SSSP).

The MonoTele is a space telescope built from a single, monolithic fused silica slab, which allows the optic lens to operate within tight tolerances. It was developed to solve the problem of keeping the two optical mirrors and metering structure used in space telescopes in alignment. LLNL replaced the components with one solid piece of glass and added optical shapes and reflective coatings at both ends of the glass.

The four-year, $2 million CRADA calls for Tyvak to provide the spacecraft and payload, and researchers at LLNL to then work to develop, test, and process data gathered from the sensors. LLNL and Tyvak are also expected to develop additional MonoTele-type telescopes capable of operating in other wavelength bands – such as ultraviolet and short-wave infrared, and as a spectrometer instrument.

“We are delighted to have formalized this collaborative effort with LLNL to demonstrate and commercialize advanced optical imaging technology,” said Anthony Previte, CEO at Tyvak. “Together we will enable end users to achieve their mission goals in many space-based markets.”

The MonoTele nanosatellite imaging payloads will be used for Earth observation, space situational awareness, and satellite navigation initiatives.

“Partnering under a CRADA with outside industry was the natural next step for commercializing the technology,” said David Dawes. “We look forward to working with Tyvak. The CRADA gives Tyvak the option to license LLNL intellectual property (IP) or joint IP developed under this collaboration, in addition to any of the Lab’s existing background IP required to practice the subject inventions.”