21, June 2022

ESA Open Invitation to Tender: 1-11244
Open Date: 08/06/2022 11:43 CEST
Closing Date: 20/07/2022 13:00 CEST

Laser based instruments are increasingly at the heart of new space missions, unlocking new measurement capability but at the same time adding unique technological challenges. The photonic components, which are typically used to construct these instruments, are generally not custom-made for space, but rather selected from readily-available high performance parts designed for terrestrial applications. One key challenge for photonic components in space applications is the vacuum environment; combined with high power laser beams there is a runaway effect caused by trace quantities of volatile organic molecules being trapped and deposited by the laser beamwhich can lead to ‘laser induced contamination’ and ultimately catastrophic device failure. The importance of considering this failure mode is evident by the complications experienced in the Aeolus mission development. The presence of oxygen helps to prevent laser induced contamination, and therefore there is a strong requirement for hermetic packages for any photonics components having free-space beam paths and high optical power densities. In addition, the use of outgassing materials in the construction of such a deviceshould be minimized. As an example, the LISA laser system includes an optical switch at the output of the laser system, with a throughput of 5W laser light at 1064nm. Such a high power optical switch has free-space beam propagation inside the package. This component is essential in the system to fulfill the requirement to switch on/off the laser without perturbation of the thermal environment, meaning the switch must be at the output of the laser and not earlier in the system. This functionality is necessary during the constellation acquisition phase, where the laser links between the three spacecraft of the LISA mission are established so that the interferometric measurements for the science experiment can be initiated. A hermetic packaged, high-power optical switch, suitable for this space application, is not available. This activity addresses the need for a high-power optical switch capable of reliable operation in space for 12 years, having a high power-handling capacity, while maintaining the beam’s single mode and polarization properties with high fidelity. Furthermore, insertion losses should be minimized, and the packaging robust enough to withstand launch. The tasks foreseen include; – review of the performance and package requirements for the high-power optical switch – preliminary design- trials and breadboarding of hermetic sealing and assembly aspects and final design – manufacture of a batch of devices (10 parts) – test campaign including for example: long duration vacuum operation at maximum power rating, mechanical shock and vibration, thermal cycling, corona discharge test – conclusions and technology development roadmap towards TRL6 and path to qualification

Directorate: Directorate of Tech, Eng. Quality
Estabilishment: ESTEC
ECOS Required: No
Classified: No
Price Range: > 500 KEURO
Authorised Contact Person: Franziska Isabella Erkelens-Sickinger
Initiating Service: TEC-EDC
IP Measure: N/A
Prog. Reference: E/0901-01 – Technology Developme
Tender Type: Open Competition
Technology Keywords: 23-A-III-Design and Development / 23-B-I-Passive Components / 23-B-VI-Power Components
Products Keywords: 2-B-1-m-Switches (including mechanical, thermal) / 2-B-1-p-Optoelectronic Devices (including opto-couplers, LED, CCDs, displays, sensors)

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