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Challenges in Designing and Building Optical Systems for Space

Presentation will begin: Tuesday, January 10, 2023 - 10:20 AM EST
Presented by: Kate Medicus, Ruda Cardinal

Hardware is hard, optics hardware is harder, and optics hardware in space is the hardest of them all. When designing systems for space, one must account for all the standard specifications of a typical optical system — plus all of the challenges involved with using optics in space, including vibration, shock, thermal extremes, radiation, vacuum and pressure changes, surface charging, outgassing, and debris. Special considerations are needed for any surface coatings, such as surface blacking and lens’ antireflection coatings, along with adhesives.

Even with these concerns, the greatest challenge in designing and building optical systems for space applications is not technical. Rather, it’s project management. ‘NewSpace’ is built on the premise that many of these project management tasks can be reduced. Medicus provides examples, however, where this is not the case. She reviews the standard project management structure for custom-built optical systems in space, and shows why each step is necessary, featuring real-world examples of the challenges, and the solutions, throughout the developmental process.


About the presenter
Kate MedicusKate Medicus, Ph.D., is CEO and co-owner of Ruda-Cardinal, an optical engineering design and assembly firm in Tucson, Ariz. At Ruda-Cardinal, Medicus and the team satisfy customer demands and requirements by designing and manufacturing custom precision lenses and other optical instruments.

Previously, Medicus worked as a subject matter expert in optical metrology and in technical leadership roles at optical manufacturing and precision metrology firms. She completed her doctorate in precision engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Medicus and her extended family, including many pets, now call Tucson home, where they enjoy hiking in the desert.




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