Mountain Optical Systems Technology  

Engineering Milestones  
    Contact us!
Home : Engineering Consulting : Scientific and Technical Communication : Blog — Scientific Seen

    First-of-a-Kind Systems
From Concept to Reality
When it comes to transitioning early stage technology into first-of-a-kind hardware, nothing beats experience. Here are a few key accomplishments I've had along the way.

The Starlab proof-of-concept strategic defense initiative (SDI) program was designed to demonstrate several stages of missile tracking for a potential spaceborne missile defense system. Although eventually cancelled before flight, it was developed as the largest single space shuttle sortie experiment to the date, including several laser and sensor systems. Given a task equivalent to detecting the difference between the two edges of a dime from a football field's distance, incredibly accurate optical alignment is essential. I was responsible for the design, manufacturing, test, and delivery of three sensor packages and one of the laser systems.

The Airborne Laser Program was another missile defense program, this one designed to focus a high-energy laser beam from a modified Boeing 747 onto boosting missiles up to a couple hundred kilometers away. Before investing billions of dollars into a complex flight system, it was important to validate the system design and operation. There were two problems:

  • The laser beam conditioning and control system was quite complex, and
  • No laboratory was capable of simulating atmospheric propagation with high fidelity
I assumed overall responsibility for the brassboard facility designed to overcome those problems, and converted a rudimentary lab setup into the world's most accurate atmospheric propagation testbed. Demonstrations and results from that laboratory played a significant role in not only validating system performance, but also in winning the contract competition.

The Commercial Remote Sensing Satellite (renamed "Ikonos" on orbit) was the first satellite to offer 1-meter resolution Earth imagery to the public. It's unique three-mirror anastigmat was a first-of-a-kind compact design, combined with an innovative sensor array that combined panchromatic and four color band detectors. I guided the telescope manufacturing and test — including directing the first use of phase diversity to verify the optical quality of a telescope. That innovative test reduced the standard test time by two orders of magnitude.

The extreme-ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) project was a public/private partnership designed to develop and validate technologies required to produce semiconductor features just a few tens of nanometers in width. Extreme ultraviolet radiation is about 150 times shorter than visible light, which is difficult to generate and difficult to work with. Visible light interferometers are far more convenient, but to get the required accuracy from a visible light interferometer means the accuracy must be one two-thousandth of the wavelength. I upgraded and operated the interferometer during the validation stages.

The Clementine 2 program was an ambitious program to use a small spacecraft to image the moon and then impact two separate asteroids while using a unique and novel multimodal sensor suite to investigate the collision. I was the microsatellite sensor systems engineer for the program, which was unfortunately vetoed by then President Clinton. Although both the science and technology would have been groundbreaking, the global political climate made an autonomous, flexible microsatellite unwelcome, as it could quite easily have been converted to an anti-satellite weapon. The same basic integrated technologies, however, could be used for many alternate applications, such as missile defense and weather monitoring.

Each of these projects incorporated and developed novel technologies and converted them to working systems. In the process of creating innovative technological systems, I developed a range of hard and soft skills that enabled me to efficiently guide these kinds of projects — skills ready to be put to use on your technology development program. Depending upon the nature and scope of your project, I can bring in the support of colleagues with equally impressive records of accomplishment — We will expedite your technology development, providing technical and programmatic insight that will bring new efficiency to your project planning and execution.

Contact us

Contact us

© 2001-2021 by Mountain Optical Systems Technology.