Precision engineering: Building the Simera Sense Optics (case study)


The power of 1000… that’s what separates any optical system from most other mechanical systems. We’re talking about the basic physics and engineering, only it’s a thousand times smaller as light operates at a scale measured in nanometres, that is to say at a scale of 1 billionth of a meter.

At Simera Sense we operate at this scale daily in the production of precision optical systems to increase the detail that can be sensed with a small satellite. Using leading optical design software, we start the precision process from the initial optical design. This is followed up with a structural and thermal analysis of the detailed finite element (FEM) by simulating environmental, integration and operational load conditions.

We have partnered our team, which boast more than 30 years of combined experience in integrating precision optical systems, with both mechanical and optical manufacturers that also understand the importance of precision engineering.

As high-tech facilities are an extremely important aspect of the optical integration process, we have constructed an ISO class 7 cleanroom with a vibration damping optical test bench and a vertical integration frame. This eliminates all major environmental vibrations and contaminations, allowing up to three arc second alignment accuracy. Thermal control of the integration environment is also extremely important. The ambient temperature of each optical payload component needs to be within one degree Celsius during assembly.

Verifying that the optical payload will operate similarly in space as in the laboratory is a vital phase in the smart manufacturing process. Performing optical tests within a vacuum tank to simulate the space environment, and vibration tests to recreate the rocket launch, are absolutely crucial steps in this process.

Here we have also introduced the latest thinking in Industry 4.0 and Space 4.0 to automate an increasing amount of monitoring and reporting processes. This allows traceability of each step of the assembly, integration and testing process.

The expertise and experience of the team and suppliers, supported by our precision equipment and processes, is what is enabling Simera Sense to produce a world class CubeSat imager with integrated attitude determination and control system ADCS from CubeSpace.

Our precision engineering and smart manufacturing processes are driven by our belief that there are no limits to earth observation. Feel free to contact us to learn how we can assist you in making your remote sensing application a reality.

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