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Key components for spaceborne optical systems

Optical Surfaces Ltd. has delivered a challenging 300mm diameter off-axis paraboloid and a mounted flat mirror to SIMERA Technology Group (Pty) Ltd – an engineering design and development company specialising in the development of UAV and small satellite optical payload systems.

Drawing upon its highly experienced and skilled production team – Optical Surfaces manufactured the off-axis parabolic mirror with surface accuracy of better than lambda/15 P-V, surface quality of 20/10 scratch/dig and surface slope error of lambda/10/cm P-V. This, together with an ultra-smooth coated reference flat (315 mm diameter), have been produced from Zerodur™ as the main reflective and reference components, for a large flight test alignment collimator under construction in SIMERA Technology Group’s optical clean room. This will be the largest and most capable privately-owned facility for testing of airborne and spaceborne optics in South Africa.

Louwrens Marais, Systems Engineer at SIMERA Technology Group commented: “The contract for the off-axis parabolic and flat mirrors was awarded to Optical Surfaces Ltd. based upon its proven expertise and experience in producing demanding optical systems for the space and satellite systems community.” He added: “We have been very pleased with the technical expertise shown and the support provided by Optical Surfaces Ltd, both in direct dealings, and through Talex UK Ltd, our UK collaborator. We therefore placed an additional order on Optical Surfaces Ltd for the manufacture of Flight Model mirrors for a space telescope project we’re currently involved in. These consist of an annular Zerodur™ Primary Mirror, and second-surface Secondary Mirror. Both are chemically etched spherical mirrors, requiring surface accuracies better than lambda/10 P-V.”

Optical Surfaces

Optical Surfaces Ltd has been producing large and demanding high-precision optical components and systems for more than 40 years and is today internationally acknowledged for its technical expertise, attention to quality and customer service.

With the main workshops and test facilities deep underground in an area excavated from solid chalk, temperatures remain constant year-round and vibration is practically non-existent. These are important considerations when making, mounting and testing high-precision optics. Working with these natural advantages Optical Surfaces Ltd is able to supply high-precision off-axis parabolas, spherical and flat mirrors, etalons, aspherics, reference flats, windows, collimators and beam expanders for the most demanding applications. With such stable conditions, testing, particularly with long path lengths, becomes quantifiable and reliable. Investment in large-aperture Fizeau, Zygo GPI, Flashphase, Twyman Green, Scatterplate, and Laser Unequal Path interferometers allows detailed testing of the largest-diameter optics. Topographic and fringe analysis provides precise testing of surface roughness and confirms the wavefront of various surface forms. A rolling programme for calibration of test optics where possible to national standards and production approval to ISO 9001-2008 ensure that the quality of optics from Optical Surfaces is second to none.

Today the company is a trusted supplier to leading scientific, astronomical and defence establishments including many space projects worldwide.

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