....Membrane Optic Imager Real-Time Exploitation (MOIRE) program under contract to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Ball Aerospace is incrementally demonstrating technologies needed to develop a large, lightweight geosynchronous space-based telescope using advanced diffractive optics membrane to provide persistent, real-time, tactical video to the war fighter. The PDR, which concluded on August 30, demonstrated the ability to create a diffracted optical element (DOE) on a membrane. Ball Aerospace showed an 80 centimeter diameter, 32.5 meter focal length imaging DOE. This component is typical of what would be used for a 5 meter diameter telescope. Ultimately, the system is envisioned to use multiple membranes to form a collection aperture that is 20 meters in diameter. MOIRE seeks to validate the manufacturability of large membranes, large structures to hold the optics tight and flat, and also demonstrate the secondary optical elements needed to turn a diffraction based optic (such as photon sieve) into a wide, bandwidth imaging device.
“The use of membrane optics is an unprecedented approach to building large aperture telescopes,” said Ball Aerospace President and CEO, David L. Taylor. “With the technology being developed on the MOIRE program, Ball Aerospace is broadening its role in geosynchronous imaging.” In phase two of the program now underway, a sub-aperture section of a 5 meter diameter demonstration telescope will be designed and built. Five additional risk-reduction options in phase two of the program will be addressed prior to Ball building a flight demonstration.