FalconSAT-7: Towards Rapidly Deployable Space-Based Surveillance
AIR FORCE ACADEMY COLORADO SPRINGS CO DEPT OF PHYSICS
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The USAF Academy Department of Physics is building FalconSAT-7, a membrane solar telescope to be deployed from a 3U CubeSat in LEO. The primary optic is a 0.2m photon sieve-- a diffractive element consisting of billions of tiny holes in an otherwise opaque polymer sheet. The membrane, its support structure, secondary optics, two imaging cameras and associated controlrecording electronics are all packaged within half the CubeSat volume. Once in space the supporting pantograph structure is deployed to pulling the membrane flat under tension. The telescope will then be steered towards the Sun to gather images at H-alpha for transmission to the ground. Due for launch in 2015, FalconSAT-7 will serve as a pathfinder for future mission in lightweight, high-resolution space-based surveillance. We are currently investigating two possible options optimized for Earth observing and SSA. Our preliminary designs have a 0.3m aperture deployed from a 6-12U satellite. Such a telescope would be capable of providing sub-meter resolution of ground or space-based objects depending on the orbital characteristics.
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