Manufacturing Archive ME Archive Optical Archive Vision Archive

L3Harris Space Secondary Mirror Positioning System

L3Harris Technologies is an American defense company that builds a variety of mechanical, optical, and electrical systems. The Rochester division designs and builds systems for space applications. Optical space telescopes are widely used in both Earth and astrophysical observations and play a major role in scientific and national security. For optical telescopes to function properly and take clear images, their optics must be precisely aligned to focus light. However, during the launch of the telescope, the relative positions of these optics can change. The goal of the project is to build a mechanism to finely adjust the position of these optics to enhance resolution and accuracy of the telescope images. This improved image quality has significant implications for both terrestrial and space observations with applications to scientific research and national security.

Team Members

  • Madeline Bedrock
  • Eli Burk
  • Daniel Troyetsky
  • Jessica Zhang

Project Description

Optical space telescopes are widely used in both earth and astrophysical observations and play a major role in scientific and national security. Important scientific optical instruments include the Hubble Space Telescope and upcoming James Webb Space Telescope. For optical telescopes to function properly and take clear and accurate images, their optics must be precisely aligned to focus light and minimize wavefront error. However, due to vibrations and acceleration loads during a telescope’s transportation to its final orbit, and due to changing temperatures resulting in thermal strain, the relative position of the optics can change slightly. Even a displacement on the order of microns can have a profound impact on the optic’s performance. Therefore, any successful space telescope design needs to incorporate systems that correct this error.  

The goal of this project is to develop a linear reduction mechanism to finely adjust the position of the secondary mirror of a space telescope along the normal axis which intersects both it and the primary mirror to correct for alignment errors. The ability to correct for misalignment will allow clearer and more accurate images to be captured by the telescope and will increase the allowable tolerance of other system components, thereby reducing manufacturing cost.  

Design Presentation Video

Interactive Exploded View of Full CAD Assembly


The L3Harris Senior Design Team would like to firstly thank Professor Muir (University of Rochester) and Leslie Johnson (L3Harris) for their support throughout the project. The team would further like to thank Chris Pratt, Mike Pomerantz, Jim Alkins, Molly Over and the rest of the ME 205 TAs for their assistance with manufacturing, component testing, and logistics. We would lastly like to thank Alex Ferrarese for handling material purchasing and Professor Genberg for supplying and assisting with SigSort.