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March 29, 2012

Ultralight Structures for Space Telescopes that are 100 times cheaper and Printable Spacecraft

1. How to build a space telescope for 1% of the cost: Fabrication of large space optics that are accurately shaped to better than a 1000th of the width of a human hair is an enormous challenge. Traditional space telescope fabrication methods require rigid and therefore heavy mirrors, expensive spacecraft and massive rocket launch vehicles. This breakthrough technology allows every molecule of a polymer substrate to also serve as a laser powered nano-actuator. These molecules are used to control the shape of a super thin inexpensive large curved mirror, reducing cost and mass by a factor of 100. Dr. Ritter’s NIAC telescope OCCAM mirror will be less dense than a feather.




2. Imagine editing a design file on your laptop, uploading it to a specialty printer and collecting your spacecraft in the output tray later in the day. Flexible printed electronics have revolutionized consumer products such as cellular phones and PDAs, allowing greater functionality with decreasing size and weight. Perhaps the same can be done for NASA spacecraft. This study will explore the concept of designing and fabricating a spacecraft based entirely on flexible substrate printed electronics. The study will consider mission requirements, manufacturing compatibility and advanced technology from both industry and academia.





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