COLORADO SPRINGS – Made in Space unveiled a product April 8 to help customers conduct interferometry missions on small satellites.
Possible applications for the new product, Optimast-Structurally Connected Interferometer (Optimast-SCI) include space situational awareness and detection of near-Earth objects, Andrew Rush, Made In Space president and chief executive, told SpaceNews.
Traditional space-based interferometry missions bring along large deployable structures to separate their telescopes or other instruments. Hinges and mechanical systems on the deployable structures allow them to be folded in launch fairings and extended in orbit.
Made In Space proposes instead equipping satellites weighing roughly 150- to 300-kilograms with technology to manufacture in orbit a 20-meter optical boom interferometer with a modular internal optics bench the firm developed with Lowell Observatory.
“Depending on the ambition of the project, this is something we could design and have ready for flight on a two- or three-year timescale,” Rush said.
After years of developing and demonstrating various technologies for in-orbit manufacturing and assembly, Made in Space is beginning to work with partners and customers on specific mission applications like interferometry, Rush said. “This is a near-term thing folks can and should be thinking about,” he added.
The core manufacturing device for Optimast-SCI is Made In Space’s Extended Structure Additive Manufacturing Machine (ESAMM), which the company has demonstrated in the NASA Ames Research Center’s thermal vacuum chamber. Made in Space derived ESAMM extruders from the extruders installed in the Additive Manufacturing Facility the firm operates on the International Space Station to produce hardware for NASA and the U.S. National Laboratory.
Made In Space also is developing technology to create large solar arrays in orbit by pairing a solar cell blanket with feedstock and a 3D printer.