Free-form metal optics for new space applications


The rapidly increasing number of commercial satellites, with some 25,000 small satellites* for Earth observation and communication services alone in the next few years, poses a completely new scaling problem for component and subsystem suppliers. In addition, Earth observation as well as laser and quantum communication increasingly require high-quality optical subsystems with nanometre precision, such as telescopes, spectrometers or pointing mirrors, to enable high-resolution observation data or increased transmission speeds. SPACEOPTIX GmbH develops and manufactures high-quality opto-mechanical components and systems made of metallic substrates. Compared to alternative materials such as glass or ceramics, the metal optical mirrors and mirror systems offer significantly reduced manufacturing and assembly costs and, by using free-form optical system designs, an excellent ratio between optical imaging quality, mass and volume. As a Fraunhofer IOF spin-off, the aim of SPACEOPTIX GmbH is the technology transfer of 20 years of applied research in the field of metal optics to industrial standards.

*, 2019, Small Satellite Market Size, Growth and Industry Forecast, 2026


  • Reduced manufacturing costs compared to optics made of alternative materials
  • Efficient realisation of compact freeform optical system designs (miniaturisation, increase of image quality)
  • Integration of mechanical functions into the optical mirror component and thus application of simplified mounting principles (“snap-in” assembly)

Jena, Germany
Dr-Ing. Matthias Beier

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