Categories: News

PlaneWave Instruments’ RC700 Installed at NASA

In November 2021, our RC700 was installed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland where the system will be used to demonstrate laser communication technology for future spaceflight missions.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled that the RC700 will be used in NASA’s laser communication project,” said PlaneWave’s Technical Services Manager, Matt Dieterich. “The opportunity to be a part of a ground-breaking project with NASA is the reason we strive to create the highest performing telescopes and gimbals.”

The development of the RC700 began when our team realized that the industry needed more out of laser communication. From software, design, assembly, and testing, this is the first telescope engineered to meet the exact needs of the consumer.

The RC700 was developed to fulfill the needs of demanding research, commercial, and defense applications. With direct drive motors on each axis, a small central obstruction (< 30 %), and optional GPS/PTP encoder synchronization and carbon fiber hard shroud, the RC700 is an ideal platform for laser communication and satellite laser ranging.

“All we had to do was listen,” said Eric Blackhurst, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at PlaneWave Instruments. “The industry had gaps in technology, and we knew we could fill those gaps.” With PlaneWave’s technology, optics, and tracking, customers who need to perform high-precision satellite tracking can now do so faster and more accurately than ever before.

Thanks to our outstanding engineering team, our software accomplishments are like no other. “We build products that are lacking in the industry or aren’t in the market yet,” explained Richard Hedrick, President and CEO of PlaneWave Instruments. “Everything that we do stems from our mission to build the perfect telescope, and the RC700 took us one step closer to that goal.”

Our mission to build the perfect telescope is further demonstrated by our recent partnership with Hart Scientific Consulting International (HartSCI) to offer the world’s first commercially pre-integrated adaptive optics solution. Our new commercial off-the-shelf adaptive optics will further expand the RC700’s already impressive capabilities and revolutionize the laser communications market by continuing to meet the industry’s specific needs and providing turn-key solutions that lead to higher data throughput.

“We are doing what no one else has done as a commercial off-the-shelf telescope manufacturer, but with commercial off-the-shelf adaptive optics units we hope to advance the laser communications market even further,” remarked Dieterich.

RC700 Features

  • 0.7-meter f/12 (8,410mm focal length) Ritchey-Chrétien optical design.
  • Optimized central obstruction < 30 % for improved image contrast and optical fiber coupling efficiency.
  • Dual Nasmyth focus ports, each capable of holding over 300 lbs, paired with a PlaneWave Interface 4 (PWI4) software controllable tertiary mirror for fast changes between multiple instrumentation packages.
  • Direct-drive motors on each axis providing up to 50 degrees/second of smooth, fast, and virtually silent slewing of the telescope with zero backlash and zero periodic error.
  • On-axis 26-bit absolute encoders coupled to each axis for precise pointing and stable LEO satellite tracking.
  • Optional GPS/PTP encoder synchronization for precise time-stamping and carbon fiber hard-shroud for stray light mitigation.
  • Secondary mirror focusing for increased instrumentation backfocus distance.
  • Compatible with the Series-5 rotator for derotation.
  • Space-frame design with optional Coudé Path.
  • PointXP mount modeling software.
  • *Optional piggyback DeltaRho 350 OTA and remotely adjustable saddle sold separately*
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