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Proceedings Paper

Potential large missions enabled by NASA’s space launch system
Author(s): H. Philip Stahl; Randall C. Hopkins; Andrew Schnell; David Alan Smith; Angela Jackman; Keith R. Warfield
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Paper Abstract

Large space telescope missions have always been limited by their launch vehicle’s mass and volume capacities. The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was specifically designed to fit inside the Space Shuttle and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is specifically designed to fit inside an Ariane 5. Astrophysicists desire even larger space telescopes. NASA’s "Enduring Quests Daring Visions" report calls for an 8- to 16-m Large UV-Optical-IR (LUVOIR) Surveyor mission to enable ultra-high-contrast spectroscopy and coronagraphy. AURA’s “From Cosmic Birth to Living Earth” report calls for a 12-m class High-Definition Space Telescope to pursue transformational scientific discoveries. NASA’s “Planning for the 2020 Decadal Survey” calls for a Habitable Exoplanet Imaging (HabEx) and a LUVOIR as well as Far-IR and an X-Ray Surveyor missions. Packaging larger space telescopes into existing launch vehicles is a significant engineering complexity challenge that drives cost and risk. NASA’s planned Space Launch System (SLS), with its 8 or 10-m diameter fairings and ability to deliver 35 to 45-mt of payload to Sun-Earth-Lagrange-2, mitigates this challenge by fundamentally changing the design paradigm for large space telescopes. This paper reviews the mass and volume capacities of the planned SLS, discusses potential implications of these capacities for designing large space telescope missions, and gives three specific mission concept implementation examples: a 4-m monolithic off-axis telescope, an 8-m monolithic on-axis telescope and a 12-m segmented on-axis telescope.

Paper Details

Date Published: 29 July 2016
PDF: 19 pages
Proc. SPIE 9904, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave, 99040G (29 July 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2233684
Show Author Affiliations
H. Philip Stahl, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Randall C. Hopkins, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Andrew Schnell, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
David Alan Smith, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Angela Jackman, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Keith R. Warfield, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9904:
Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave
Howard A. MacEwen; Giovanni G. Fazio; Makenzie Lystrup; Natalie Batalha; Nicholas Siegler; Edward C. Tong, Editor(s)

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