Production Technology for Replica Seeker Mirrors

Period of Performance: 08/06/2003 - 02/06/2004

$70K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Cornerstone Research Group, Inc.
16 ?North Camino Miramonte
Tucson, AZ 85716
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Cornerstone Research Group, Inc. (CRG), proposes to integrate advanced materials and processes into a fabrication technology system addressing the drawbacks of conventional materials and fabrication processes for mirrors used in seeker optics for interceptor missiles. In this new approach, mirrors will be produced by replicating an optical quality master mold. Grinding and polishing steps to achieve optical figure and finish will be accomplished on the mold, rather than the actual mirror. This will dramatically simplify the mirror fabrication process, thereby enabling dramatically less expensive tooling than current practice for mirrors composed of glass, metal, or advanced materials. Further, in production lots of identical mirrors (e.g., for interceptor missile systems), the replication approach to fabrication will provide radical reduction in cost by eliminating the lengthy, expensive grinding and polishing processes for individual mirrors. The replica fabrication therefore will provide an affordable approach to using advanced structural materials (e.g., SiC, metal matrix composites) to attain reduced mirror mass while achieving strength, stiffness, and thermal properties optimized for interceptor seeker optics. Development of this new replica fabrication technology will exploit and extend recent advancements in polymers, advanced structural materials, and process technologies resulting from CRG's and its partner's SBIR and commercial R&D. Operational Benefits: (1) Reduced cycle time for producing mirrors: In production runs of identical mirrors, fabrication rate will be on the order of mirrors/day instead of the current days/mirror; (2) Simpler grinding and polishing processes: Accomplished on easily-processed mold material (glass or metal) instead of on difficult-to-process mirror materials (e.g., SiC or metal matrix composites); (3) Affordable exploitation of advanced mirror materials: Removes cost barrier to using advanced materials with lower mass density and better structural and thermal properties than glass or metals. Commercial Applications: (1) Sensor optics for aerospace systems; (2) Transmission optics for directed energy systems; (3) Lightweight inexpensive research and consumer-level telescopes.