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Creating Giant Space Telescopes for launch

Presentation #412.02 in the session Laboratory Astrophysics.

Published onJul 01, 2023
Creating Giant Space Telescopes for launch

The days of origami for space-borne craft are numbered. With the advent of reusable rocketry at scale, with tonnage capabilities in the triple digits, launching 8-meter mirrors is fully feasible, and required. Fleets of such rockets allow design and manufacture of a Giant Magellan sized telescope observatory and the demand for science data out of these sized telescopes has grown exponentially with the successful orbital placement of James Webb.

The Foundation therefor has conceived and begun design of the Giant Space Magellan telescope observatory for launch aboard a fleet of 7 Starship cargo vehicles for Earth orbit above the outermost shells of communication satellites. Further, the Foundation encourages and welcomes other such observatories for future consideration, across and spreading out the spectra being observed. First light of the Visible and near-IR spectrum Magellan ought to be achieved soon after SpaceX certifies a human-rated Starship, including tugs for construction astronauts to assemble our observatory on-orbit.

Science requirements for the observatory will leave out adaptive optics and the 500-ton Dobsonian mount, in exchange for gyroscopic stabilization on an orbital platform to be launched with the mirrors. Casting such mirrors will be challenging, only in that we need them sooner than current capabilities allow. As has been noted, production challenges must be planned in for mass numbers of such items, so a new approach to the casting process will be required. Casting all 7 mirrors in the same spinner furnace ought to significantly reduce the time for grinding and surfacing from the one-at-a-time method used today.

Instrumentation will be needed for such massive photon counts as can be anticipated, as AURA has already discovered. These new instruments will further be required to pass launch preparedness tests.

Construction astronauts will be needed who have experience in EVA rigors, so we will need to contact as many as exist, gather their input for new vehicles, tools, suits, and their Shop Starship. This ‘Ship may be the bottleneck that will slow first light, but may not be that hard.

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