Telescopes in space provide vital information about our world and the universe around us. These telescopes have been very expensive to manufacture and place in space, but that may change as innovators in the region create a new generation of telescopes.
“The project is to make lightweight, thermally stable, low-cost space mirrors,” said Bill Easter, CEO of Semplastics in Oviedo. “It’s a key technology never been done before that can be manufactured faster and cheaper to be sent out into space more often.”
Easter and Kathleen Richardson, Ph.D., professor of Optics and Materials Science and Engineering in the College of Optics and Photonics at the University of Central Florida, have been working together through the Matching Grants Research Program (MGRP) to further develop the lightweight mirrors.
The mirrors would be attached to earth- and space-observing telescopes to capture electromagnetic radiation from space and could provide information on extraterrestrial life, how the universe originated, and weather and climate changes.
“Dr. Richardson and her team at the University of Central Florida have been great on consulting and helping us with many of the mechanisms related to the mirror’s manufacturer,” said Easter. “Dr. Richardson is an expert in glass and has the laboratory equipment that we don’t, so by having access to her team and resources, we’ve been able to develop this process further.”
While Richardson also sees the value in partnership, she understands The Corridor’s long-term vision as well.
“The motivation that’s behind what the MGRP funds are to be used for not only helps industries, but also helps us at the university and our efforts to develop the next generation of scientists and engineers for the workforce,” said Richardson. “I think this program is so valuable. Not all states do this and I’m a huge advocate for the long term return this program offers to our community.”