Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company
has been contracted by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to conduct a study on a
low-mass membrane telescope for NASA’s New Millennium Program. The telescope
concept is called DART, for Dual Anamorphic Reflector Telescope. The study
will be conducted at Missiles & Space Operations in Sunnyvale, the company’s
Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
(JPL) in Pasadena.

“We are very excited about working with Dr. Mark Dragovan, the developer of
the DART concept, and Art Chmielewski, both of JPL, on this revolutionary
technology for space applications in which Lockheed Martin has been
involved,” said Dr. Domenick Tenerelli, Lockheed Martin project director for
the DART study. “Our past and present efforts on the Hubble Space Telescope
(HST), the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF), and the Space
Interferometry Mission (SIM) provide an experience base that complements the
vision and advanced space technology development of JPL.”

The DART system under study consists of two parabolic-cylindrical
trough-shaped reflectors oriented with respect to each other to produce a
point focus. Since each reflector contains only a single simple curve, the
mirrors can be formed by tensioning a reflective foil over a frame that has
a parabolic contour along one axis. The use of an extremely low-mass
membrane for the reflective surfaces would significantly reduce the weight
(and mass) of the telescope.

In traditional telescope architectures, the larger the aperture desired, the
greater is the mass required for the optics support structure. Because the
DART architecture uses a thin membrane for its reflectors, the density of
the mirror does not increase with aperture size. In fact, with DART, as
aperture increases the ratio of structure mass to reflector mass actually
decreases. Historically, the lower the mass of an observatory the lower is
its cost and the number of launch vehicles required to put multiple
telescope systems in orbit.

Using DART technology, telescopes with apertures of 15-25 meters in diameter
will weigh a hundred times less than HST – which carries a mirror of only
2.4 meters in diameter. Future observatories like the Single Aperture Far
Infrared (SAFIR) facility, Life Finder, and Planet Imager become feasible
with DART. This revolutionary new technology thus enables very large
aperture space observatories to be placed in orbit at modest cost.

The DART technology concept under study by the Lockheed Martin team is one
of eight selected for development for future missions. NASA plans to select
up to five of the concepts for Space Technology 6 (ST6), the next New
Millennium Program project, which will flight-test the new technology
concepts in 2003 and 2004. The teams, selected by NASA’s New Millennium
Program, will study the options during a six-month phase for defining the
technology concepts.

The New Millennium Program was created in 1994 to identify, develop and
flight-validate advanced technologies that can lower costs and enable
critical performance of science missions in the 21st century. The program is
managed by JPL for NASA’s Office of Earth Science and Office of Space
Science, Washington, DC. JPL is a division of the California Institute of

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, headquartered in Denver, Colo., is
one of the major operating units of Lockheed Martin Corporation. Space
Systems designs, develops, tests, manufactures, and operates a variety of
advanced technology systems for military, civil and commercial customers.
Chief products include space launch and ground systems, remote sensing and
communications satellites for commercial and government customers, advanced
space observatories and interplanetary spacecraft, fleet ballistic missiles
and missile defense systems.

Lockheed Martin Corporation, headquartered in Bethesda, Md., is a global
enterprise principally engaged in the research, design, development,
manufacture, and integration of advanced-technology systems, products, and
services. The Corporation’s core businesses are systems integration, space,
aeronautics, and technology services. Employing more than 140,000 people
worldwide, Lockheed Martin had 1999 sales surpassing $25 billion.


NOTE TO EDITORS: Low- and high-resolution JPEG image files of DART as it
might be assembled and tested at the International Space Station are
available at the following URL:


For more information about Lockheed Martin Space Systems-Sunnyvale, see our
website at