A Caltech Library Service

An evolvable space telescope for future astronomical missions

Polidan, Ronald S. and Breckinridge, James B. and Lillie, Charles F. and MacEwen, Howard A. and Flannery, Martin R. and Dailey, Dean R. (2014) An evolvable space telescope for future astronomical missions. In: Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2014: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave. Proceedings of SPIE. No.9143. Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) , Bellingham, WA, Art. no. 914319. ISBN 9780819496119.

[img] PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Astronomical flagship missions after JWST will require affordable space telescopes and science instruments. Innovative spacecraft-electro-opto-mechanical system architectures matched to the science requirements are needed for observations for exoplanet characterization, cosmology, dark energy, galactic evolution formation of stars and planets, and many other research areas. The needs and requirements to perform this science will continue to drive us toward larger and larger apertures. Recent technology developments in precision station keeping of spacecraft, interplanetary transfer orbits, wavefront/sensing and control, laser engineering, macroscopic application of nano-technology, lossless optical designs, deployed structures, thermal management, interferometry, detectors and signal processing enable innovative telescope/system architectures with break-through performance. Unfortunately, NASA’s budget for Astrophysics is unlikely to be able to support the funding required for the 8 m to 16 m telescopes that have been studied as a follow-on to JWST using similar development/assembly approaches without decimating the rest of the Astrophysics Division’s budget. Consequently, we have been examining the feasibility of developing an “Evolvable Space Telescope” that would begin as a 3 to 4 m telescope when placed on orbit and then periodically be augmented with additional mirror segments, structures, and newer instruments to evolve the telescope and achieve the performance of a 16 m or larger space telescope. This paper reviews the approach for such a mission and identifies and discusses candidate architectures.

Item Type:Book Section
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Breckinridge, James B.0000-0002-9488-098X
Additional Information:© 2014 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). The authors would like to acknowledge strong support and internal funding from Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems and very helpful comments, suggestions, and criticisms from a variety of people, including Jonathan Arenberg, Alberto Conti, Lee Feinberg, Marc Postman, Theodore Swanson, and Harley Thronson.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Northrop Grumman CorporationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Space telescope, segmented telescopes, in-space assembly and servicing
Series Name:Proceedings of SPIE
Issue or Number:9143
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180718-160040918
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Ronald S. Polidan, James B. Breckinridge, Charles F. Lillie, Howard A. MacEwen, Martin R. Flannery, Dean R Dailey, "An evolvable space telescope for future astronomical missions", Proc. SPIE 9143, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2014: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave, 914319 (2 August 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2057161;
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:87981
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:18 Jul 2018 23:20
Last Modified:21 Dec 2020 23:19

Repository Staff Only: item control page