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PW1000 Observatory System Named 2022 Coolest Thing Made In Michigan


As one of the nation’s largest centers for manufacturing, the state of Michigan has been a leader in innovation since Henry Ford began rolling cars off the line in the early 1900s. To highlight the continued innovations of manufacturers, the Michigan Manufacturers Association created the Coolest Thing Made in Michigan contest in 2018. Each year the contest culminates in a winner being chosen and given the coveted title of “Coolest”.

This year, PlaneWave Instruments, located in Adrian, MI, was named the 2022 winner of the Coolest Thing Made in Michigan award for its PW1000 Observatory System. The PW1000 is a state-of-the-art 1-meter observatory-class robotic telescope featuring a direct-drive mounting system, designed specifically for scientific discovery and installed at some of the leading research institutions around the world.

“Our passion and purpose are to expand the horizons of human knowledge,” said Rick Hedrick, President and CEO of Planewave Instruments. “We believe that by being a global leader in designing, manufacturing, and producing these instruments, we can contribute to the most critical advancements in science.”

Nominations for the Coolest Things Made in Michigan contest are accepted each summer, followed by two rounds of people’s choice voting to determine the Top 10 products, then the Top 3. This year’s winner was announced at the 2022 MFG Excellence Awards on November 10, 2022. 

“There are many reasons that this award is so special to our team,” said Hedrick. “We moved our entire manufacturing operation from California to Michigan in 2018, and this validates our decision to become part of the manufacturing community in Michigan. In addition, the PW1000 system is a big step in our pursuit of making the perfect telescope, and having this recognition is extremely gratifying.”

PlaneWave designs and manufactures research-class products for worldwide advanced applications such as Space Domain Awareness, satellite tracking, laser communications, quantum-key distribution, astronomical research, defense applications, and much more. “The recognition from our customers, the community, and Michigan, in general, has given us pride and comradery in what we do here at PlaneWave,” said Eric Blackhurst, PlaneWave’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing. We’re honored to be named ‘Coolest’ alongside some other phenomenal Michigan companies.”

Located in Adrian, Michigan, PlaneWave provides professional astronomers, researchers, scientists, and other users with the innovative telescopes and tracking systems they need to make their scientific discoveries, ensure safety within orbit, provide the next-generation of secure and commercial communications, and take many of the best astrophotographs on Earth.


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