NEWS

Beam-splitter comissioned for laser satellite communications

Optical Surfaces has received an order from the German communications satelite building firm Tesat-Spacecom for a high performance, thermally stabilised beam expander. The beam expander will be used as part of the Tesat Optical System Test Bed for verification of the optical performance of their Laser Communication Terminals (LCTs).

Tesat's LCTs are the result of more than two decades of development expertise in the field of optical communications, and Tesat's broad knowledge of space systems production. The US Missile Defence Agency's NFIRE satellite, built by General Dynamics, and Germany's TerraSAR-X satellite both launched in mid-2007, each carrying a Tesat LCT. This equipment enables point-to-point data transfers with high data volume. .

Reflecting on their choice of supplier, Dr Andreas Weichert, responsible for the Tesat Optical System Test Bed, commented: 'Optical Surfaces was selected to produce the critical 10x beam expander for our Optical System Test Bed because of their impressive track record in preparing high performance optical systems for telescope and space projects. We were also very pleased with a previous beam expander supplied by Optical Surfaces in 2006.'

Using proprietary production techniques, Optical Surfaces' skilled craftsmen will produce two concave off-axis parabolic mirrors, with a combined wavefront accuracy of lambda/35rms, that form the principal optical elements of the common focus 10x beam expander. The excellent surface accuracy achieved during manufacturing will enable the beam expander to provide sustained high optical performance over the complete field of view (+/- 0.1° at large aperture). Manufactured in INVAR - the beam expander was designed be used in vacuum at 10-6 mbar and offers high thermal stability for thermal gradients that may be as much as 10°C along the length of the instrument.

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