Success Story

The German Institute of Technical Physics uses Zemax to design a USB-powered nanosatellite thruster

The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, or DLR) is Germany's national center for aerospace, energy, and transportation research. At the Institute of Technical Physics (ITP), an institute within DLR, scientists, engineers, and technicians design and conceive optical systems that help to advance scientific knowledge within the aerospace industry. In 2020, they prototyped a new technology for maneuvering miniature satellites. The project's goal was to show how it's possible to propel nanosatellites with laser ablative propulsion, which generates thrust by evaporating material with a focused laser beam.

Using Zemax, ITP conceived its design for laser-ablative propulsion and successfully demonstrated its viability under the strict requirements of satellite miniaturization. This story takes a look at what those limitations were, how ITP produced an optical system to overcome them, and the role OpticStudio played in helping them produce and perfect their design. For designing a crucial custom asphere for the prototype, ITP used the modeling functions in OpticStudio to experiment until finding the best possible result.

Read the full story to learn more about how ITP refined its approach to laser ablative propulsion and proved its viability as a thrust technology for nanosatellites. And to learn more about OpticStudio, the industry standard for optical design software, try it for free!

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