SpaceFab is a space startup company working on space telescope satellites, asteroid mining and space manufacturing.
The company plans to launch its first space telescope in late 2022. Their satellite, called the Viewpoint space telescope, will be available to the public to take astronomical or Earth observation pictures, making it the world’s first dual-purpose commercial space telescope. It can be used for astronomy when passing over the night side of Earth during each 90-minute orbit, and used for Earth observation when passing over the daylight half.
The SpaceFab Viewpoint space telescope uses an exceptionally light and compact Corrected Dall-Kirkham design with a 21-cm primary mirror and a focal length of 160 cm, with the telescope optics to be built by PlaneWave Instruments. The satellite is a standard 12U cubesat size (each cubesat unit is one liter in volume) when launched.
Once in orbit, the secondary mirror extends, making it more than twice as long. This extendability is unique for a space telescope, yielding the highest resolution possible for its size and cost. It will be much less expensive to build and launch than other space telescope satellites with similar resolution, saving millions of dollars in construction and launch cost. This will be the first CDK telescope in space.
Other small space telescopes typically only have one camera, but the Waypoint satellite has three: a 48-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel image intensified EMCCD (Electron Multiplied Charge Coupled Device) camera, and a 2048-pixel hyperspectral linescan camera with a response from 470 nm to 900 nm in 150 spectral bands.
When used for astronomy, the space telescope has 0.6-arc second resolution. It has a special set of filters for ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared astronomical imaging of stars, galaxies, and asteroids. The image intensified EMCCD camera can be used to take pictures of faint objects with exposure times 20 times shorter than the main camera.
The satellite uses laser communication for downloading imagery, saving almost a million dollars in radio frequency licensing costs. SpaceFab plans to build several optical ground stations for receiving the satellite data, using telescopes from PlaneWave Instruments, and already has an agreement to locate one at a university’s observatory site on the west coast of the US.
Anyone will be able to buy observation time and “task” the space telescope to take pictures of the Earth or the sky. Archived low-resolution pictures will be free. Tasked high-resolution pictures will be low cost, allowing a large variety of public and private customers to use it for education, amateur and professional astronomy, market research, environmental monitoring, and more. “We want to give everyone the ability to use our space telescope, from high school students to professional astronomers” said Sean League, SpaceFab co-founder and Spacecraft Engineering Director.
SpaceFab’s fundraising is unusual. They are the first US space company to raise funds using the JOBS Act’s Title III Regulation Crowdfunding program approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission in May 2016. They are currently raising a seed round of funding through WeFunder.com/spacefab, which allows anyone around the world to invest and own a part of SpaceFab.
Founded in 2016, SpaceFab is a New Space startup located in Orange County, California, working on space telescope satellites, asteroid mining, and space manufacturing.
The co-founders are Randy Chung, who has worked at Hughes Aircraft, Western Digital, Rockwell Semiconductor, and Conexant, and Sean League, who has worked at nLight, MCI Worldcom, and Nortel. Together, they have over 50 years of experience in electronics, computers, software, cameras, telescopes, and astronomy.
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