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NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts

Ultra-Light “Photonic Muscle” Space Structures

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Fabrication of large space optics that are accurately shaped to better than a 1,000th of the width of a human hair is an enormous challenge. Traditional space telescope fabrication methods require rigid and therefore heavy mirrors, expensive spacecraft and massive rocket launch vehicles. This breakthrough technology allows every molecule of a polymer substrate to also serve as a laser powered nano-actuator. These molecules are used to control the shape of a super thin inexpensive large curved mirror, reducing cost and mass by a factor of 100. The NIAC telescope OCCAM mirror will be less dense than a feather.

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Technology Maturity (TRL)

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This is a historic project that was completed before the creation of TechPort on October 1, 2012. Available data has been included. This record may contain less data than currently active projects.

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