The Unfolding Space Telescope

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zavvy

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<b>The Unfolding Space Telescope</b><br /><br />LINK<br /><br />A novel suitcase-sized telescope could revolutionise the way we see the Earth and other planets. ESA has supported the work of a group of students in developing the Dobson Space Telescope, being tested this month aboard ESA's parabolic flight campaign aircraft.<br /> <br />This experimental prototype launches in a compact configuration and then unfolds to provide a cost-effective space telescope. It could lead to fleets of low-cost telescopes, bigger than the Hubble Space Telescope. <br /><br />Large payloads are difficult to put into space because they are usually heavy and expensive to launch. Now a revolutionary design of unfolding telescope, inspired by telescopes used by amateur astronomers, is ready to enter a phase of detailed testing. If successful, it could dramatically reduce the cost of placing telescopes in space. <br /><br />The telescope is a project of the Department of Astronautics at the Technische Universität Berlin, Germany. "We called our project the Dobson Space Telescope because we borrowed the idea from the Dobsonian telescopes used by amateur astronomers," says project manager Tom Segert, who has recently completed his degree at TU Berlin. Dobsonian telescopes are often comprised of two mirrors, held the correct distance apart by long poles. They can be dismantled and transported by car to a good observing site, where there are reassembled with nothing more complicated than a screwdriver. <br /> <br />In space, however, a screwdriver is useless unless you have an astronaut to turn it and so Segert plans to use a motor to unfold his telescope. Working on a shoestring budget, his first prototype used inflatable bicycle tyres to push the mirrors into position. When this proved incapable of aligning the telescope optics, Segert turned to metal truss rods and micromechanics to unfold everything into its correct place.
 
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mrmorris

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Very interesting idea. I've been wondering just how large/powerful of a space observatory could be launched by a Falcon I. This observatory is tiny compared to the F-1 payload. The F-1 can take 430kg to a Sun-synchronous orbit (same as Hubble). The DST is only ~50kg for a scope with a 50cm optic (the entire satellite is 60x60x60cm). The F-1 then could actually loft about eight of these to an SS orbit in one shot. Its payload fairing is large enough to fit 12 satellites of that size, so eight would fit with no problem (mind you I'm not claiming it could successfully <b>deploy</b> that many).<br /><br />So dreaming up a DST mission:<br /><br />- Eight DSTs (possibly only seven) are created/funded by universities around the world.<br />- They are launched on a Falcon-1<br />- Falcon 1 second stage inserts into a 700km orbit and deploys DST-1 using a spring-based mechanism like the one used for Huygens.<br />- Small burn takes F-1 to a slightly different orbit, deploy DST-2.<br />- Repeat until all eight (or seven) are deployed.<br /><br />Figure only seven DSTs are possible given the payload mass and propellant requirements for scattered deployment. That works out to about a million per satellite for the Falcon-I launch plus the satellite construction costs. Given the simplicity of the scope, that might be in the range of a million as well. So $14-million to launch seven space observatories... t'would be cool. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <br /><br />Of course the <b>other</b> daydream rattling around in my head is an upsized DST such that only one satellite gets launched via a Falcon-1. It could have a main mirror the size of Hubble's (~1.2 meters)! <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" />
 
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gregoire

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If Mr. Dobson was building them they'd probably only cost about $185 apiece:)
 
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telfrow

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<font color="yellow">A novel suitcase-sized telescope could revolutionise the way we see the Earth and other planets. ESA has supported the work of a group of students in developing the Dobson Space Telescope, being tested this month aboard ESA's parabolic flight campaign aircraft.<br /><br />This experimental prototype launches in a compact configuration and then unfolds to provide a cost-effective space telescope. It could lead to fleets of low-cost telescopes, bigger than the Hubble Space Telescope.<br /><br />Large payloads are difficult to put into space because they are usually heavy and expensive to launch. Now a revolutionary design of unfolding telescope, inspired by telescopes used by amateur astronomers, is ready to enter a phase of detailed testing. If successful, it could dramatically reduce the cost of placing telescopes in space.<br /><br />The telescope is a project of the Department of Astronautics at the Technische Universität Berlin, Germany. "We called our project the Dobson Space Telescope because we borrowed the idea from the Dobsonian telescopes used by amateur astronomers," says project manager Tom Segert, who has recently completed his degree at TU Berlin. Dobsonian telescopes are often comprised of two mirrors, held the correct distance apart by long poles. They can be dismantled and transported by car to a good observing site, where there are reassembled with nothing more complicated than a screwdriver.</font><br /><br />Full story here:<br /><br />http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050731233203.htm <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <strong><font color="#3366ff">Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find and not to yeild.</font> - <font color="#3366ff"><em>Tennyson</em></font></strong> </div>
 
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mrmorris

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Just thought of another possibility for launching a test of this telescope. After the Cosmos-1 debacle, Russia needs a payload (hopefully a <b>very</b> inexpensive one) to make another attempt at a successful Volna launch. The LEO payload capacity on the Volna is ~115 kg from equatorial sites. with a volume of ~1.3m3. I say that's about perfect for a proof-of-concept launch.
 
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mrmorris

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<font color="yellow">"hopefully the telescope will pass its test trial "</font><br /><br />It's not to that point yet. According to their website , they are currently building an optical testbed. Of course, according to the paper there, the testbed was supposed to be completed in late 2004, so don't know if it's completed and the website is out-of-date, or what. In addition, this is not actually a space-ready platform, but merely the mirrors and mechanisms to automagically deploy and focus a 14" main-mirror dobson telescope. <br /><br />For the actual satellite they plan to use a modified DLR Bird Bus. Nothing on the website talks about actual construction dates for it, though.
 
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