Safran Reosc: 80 years of technological prowess for astronomy and space
Founded in 1937, Safran Reosc has become a world leader in high-performance optics for satellites, large telescopes, high-energy lasers and the semiconductor industry. Here we take a quick look back at 80 years of innovation, technological achievements and a winning spirit, which has allowed this impressive enterprise to open new doors into the Universe, not only for scientists, but also for the general public.
From the first infrared telescope to the Extremely Large Telescope
Reosc, now known as Safran Reosc, was founded in 1937 under the impetus of Henri Chrétien and Charles Fabry, two renowned physicists who came up with major inventions in the field of optics, including the catadioptric optical system, the Ritchey-Chrétien telescope and the Fabry-Pérot interferometer. Since the outset, innovation has been an integral part of the company’s DNA.
Over recent decades, as customer requirements have become increasingly demanding, Safran Reosc has developed unrivaled expertise in opto-mechanical design, as well as the lightening, polishing, optical treatment and integration of large-scale optical assemblies. Through this rare combination of advanced skills and knowledge, the men and women of Safran Reosc have helped shape modern astronomy.
Over the years the company has leveraged its expertise in singular technologies to become a world leader in mirrors for advanced scientific instruments, especially telescopes. Its long track record includes the world’s first infrared telescope, an initial partnership with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) to polish a 3.6-meter mirror, single-piece 8-meter mirrors for ESO’s Very Large Telescope and the Gemini international telescope (1990), segments in the 11-meter mirror for the Gran Telescopio de Canarias (2000), the mirrors in the Nirspec instrument on the James Webb Space Telescope and the GAIA astrometry spacecraft, and much more.
Safran Reosc’s decisive contribution to the upcoming Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) is just the latest in a line of technological tours de force over its long history. After winning contracts to make the thin petals on the M4 mirror, and polish the M2 and M3 mirrors, in May 2017, Safran Reosc signed a new contract with ESO to polish, mount and test all segments in the ELT’s M1 primary mirror. All in all, it will produce 931 segments, including spares, for the primary mirror on what will be the largest telescope in the world when it gathers “first light” in 2024.
On October 23, 2017, Safran Reosc’s entire Saint-Pierre-du-Perray facility celebrated the company’s 80th anniversary. A birthday ceremony was organized to park this milestone, attended by Martin Sion, CEO of parent company Safran Electronics & Defense. Nearly a hundred guests were invited, including political and scientific personalities, along with some customers and all employees. They discovered, or rediscovered, the company’s operations through films, guided tours and an exhibition retracing the development of Safran Reosc’s unrivaled expertise. This anniversary celebration allowed Safran Reosc to spotlight its many innovations and achievements over the past 80 years.