SPIE Proceedings Vol. 11852, International Conference on Space Optics (ICSO)
Type: Zeitschriftenaufsatz (non-reviewed)
Spaceborne Earth observation based on laser instruments provides new technologies to monitor the atmosphere or our planet’s surface. Space-qualified Alexandrite laser crystals show convincing properties as a laser-active medium in high power laser systems for space-based missions, e.g. the wavelength tunability and the excellent material properties, such as high thermal conductivity and a good breaking strength. Therefore, the Horizon 2020 project GALACTIC was initiated to realize space-qualified, high-quality coated Alexandrite crystals relying on a purely European-based supply chain. The project consortium will push the development of Alexandrite crystals and coatings within the EU from the current Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 4 up to TRL 6. The Horizon 2020 project GALACTIC, which will be presented, has been initiated to realize space qualified high quality, high performance coated Alexandrite crystals rest on a purely European-based supply chain. The project consortium, consisting of Optomaterials S.r.l., Altechna Coatings and the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V., provides the necessary expertise in the fields of laser crystal growth, optical coatings and laser systems to push the development of high quality, high damage threshold Alexandrite coatings within the EU up to TRL 6. In order to reach the GALACTIC goals, different technology areas will be addressed. On the one hand, Optomaterials S.r.l. as an experienced optical crystal manufacturer will continuously refine the crystal growth process and improve the raw crystals as well as the cutting and polishing quality step-by-step. As an experienced company in optical coatings production for space applications, Altechna Coatings will secondly develop high quality, low loss, high damage threshold coatings specifically tailored for application onto Alexandrite laser crystals. The superior performance of the coated crystals will then be proven in demonstrator laser systems. The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. has the required knowledge to set up laser demonstrator prototypes, whose specifications mimic typical earth observation laser source requirements. Finally, the GALACTIC consortium will work closely together to characterize and qualify the developed coated laser crystals. By collaborating with the European space industry and deriving the detailed requirements from typical earth observation space missions, a detailed TRL 6 components test plan will prove the TRL 6 qualification of the developed coated laser crystals. This will conclude the development process and will enhance the European non-dependence status of the Alexandrite laser crystal market. At the conference, we will present the project and its consortium as well as detailed strategies to enable a non-dependence of Europe on coated Alexandrite laser crystal technology and enabling long term European availability of this technology. This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No 870427.