The first images captured by DRAGO-2 camera: the conclusive evidence of space validation of the SWIR objective developed by ASE Optics

When IACTEC trusted ASE Optics for the design and development of the SWIR objective lens for the DRAGO-2 camera, the aim was clear: to produce an integrated optical system that would provide high-quality images from space.

This was a unique opportunity to validate ASE Optics’ capabilities to design and develop optical systems for space applications: “From the beginning, we were convinced that we could and would accept this challenge: ASE Optics has more than ten years of experience developing optical and photonic systems for harsh environments and critical applications, such as Fusion or Defence. New Space applications was the next level we wanted to step up to, and we finally did it” declares Andrés Cifuentes, CEO of ASE Optics.

The DRAGO-2 camera, developed by IACTEC-Space, required an objective lens much more complex than that of its predecessor, the DRAGO-1 camera: “DRAGO-2 has a different, and more complex objective lens, with a focus six times as long, which gives it much higher resolution” explains Alba Peláez, optical engineer at IACTEC-Space, in the press release published by the IAC.

Differences in resolution between DRAGO-1 and DRAGO-2 in an area of eastern Bangladesh. Source: IAC

The optical engineering team at ASE Optics analyzed the characteristics of the DRAGO-2 camera to select the best optical design, in accordance to the requirement, in close coordination with both, mechanical and systems engineering team from IACTEC-Space, to guarantee the complete integration of the objective lens in the camera.

The results are a great success: the first images show very high quality, allowing the distinction of many different natural phenomena, as confirmed Rafael Rebolo, Director of the IAC, in the press release published by the institution.

Image from DRAGO-2 showing different burnt areas in Mali. Source: IAC

This new milestone in the design and development of complex integrated optical systems is a breakthrough for ASE Optics in all aspects: it confirms the company’s capabilities for the development and manufacturing of complex optical systems, and validates its reliability as a provider of optics and photonic solutions for the New Space sector and all its potential applications, such as Earth observation.

DRAGO-2 was integrated into the satellite ION-SCV 007 Glorious Gratia, provided by the Italian company D-Orbit’s, and it was launched into the Falcon 9 rocket made by Space X, on 3rd January 2023.

ASE Optics Europe was founded to offer an innovative and creative alternative within the optical design and engineering industry: they design and develop tailor-made optical and optoelectronic systems of high precision and quality with high technical performance for demanding applications such as New Space, Fusion, defense or science industry.

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