Light Steering Technologies Multi-Axis Scanner is a magnetic joint designed to provide gimbal-like capability. Credit: Light Steering Technologies YouTube screenshot

SAN FRANCISCO –New Hampshire startup Light Steering Technologies won a $1.25 million U.S. Air Force contract for angular pointing technology with small satellite applications.

Through the contract with AFWERX, the Air Force organization focused on innovation, LST aims to advance the Technology Readiness Level, or technological maturity, of its Multi-Axis Scanner. LST’s Multi-Axis Scanner is a patented magnetic joint for gimbal-like capability.

“What’s compelling about the technology is we are minimizing the moving mass,” Aaron Castillo, LST senior vice president of business development and program management, told SpaceNews. “This is achieved by actuating a mirror instead of the entire satellite bus or using a traditional gimbal mechanism.”

Potential applications include sensing, laser communications, directed energy and additive manufacturing, Castillo said.

Vlad Krylov, LST president and chief technology officer, was granted a patent in 2020 for a laterally unconstrained magnetic joint designed to attach a flat mirror or other payload to a surface with three linear actuators.

Since the space industry tends to be risk-averse, one of the biggest challenges for LST has been convincing potential customers that its technology will work as well in orbit as it does on the ground.

“We’re on a journey to advance the technology readiness by bringing the Multi-Axis Scanner into the equivalent environments of space,” Castillo said.

The thermal vacuum and vibration testing LST will perform under the AFWERX contract will provide “major risk mitigation,” Castillo said.

Castillo, who worked in program management at L3Harris Technologies and Northrop Grumman before joining LST, met Krylov both men worked at Elbit Systems of America.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...