July 13, 2011

XCOR Lynx Slated to Fly New Suborbital Telescope

Universe Today - Commercial space company XCOR Aerospace has signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” with the Planetary Science Institute, laying the groundwork for flying a human-operated telescope on board XCOR’s Lynx spacecraft. The Atsa Suborbital Observatory is a specially designed telescope for use in suborbital space vehicles, and when used with commercial suborbital vehicles, PSI says it will provide low-cost space-based observations above the contaminating atmosphere of Earth, while avoiding some operational constraints of satellite telescope systems.

The Atsa Suborbital Observatory (11 pages)

* Atsa Telescope diameter is 14 in, length is 31 in.
* The telescope and focal plane components are all commercially available.
– Custom fabricated parts include
• Interface between the telescope and the camera
• Mounting system (gimbals, bracket, etc.)
• Drive system/Control interface (potentially a hull passthrough)
• Filters

Infrared camera
– Commercially available Silver 220 SWIR infrared camera at the focal plane (a FLIR Thermovision SC4000 is also possible)
• Accomodates a filter wheel
• Sensitive to the spectral range of 0.82.5 μm
• Quantum efficiency over 70%.

Above telluric water in the Earth’s atmosphere
– allowing access to the complete IR spectrum of an object

Inexpensive spaceborne telescope can observe inside the solar exclusion angles of robotic orbital telescopes

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