Release Date
August 23rd, 2023
Open Date
September 20th, 2023
Due Date(s)
October 18th, 2023
Close Date
October 18th, 2023
Topic No.


Mobile RAVEN Observatory


Department of DefenseN/A


Type: SBIRPhase: BOTHYear: 2023


The Department of Defense (DoD) is seeking proposals for the development of a transportable/mobile optical telescope observatory called the Mobile RAVEN Observatory. The goal is to create a fully functional and autonomous observatory that can be relocated to remote locations over various terrains. The observatory should have network access and a self-contained power source. It should be easily deployed and optimized for autonomous observations. In Phase I, awardees will develop a design for the mobile observatory and perform finite element analysis to ensure its ability to survive transport. Phase II involves constructing a prototype and testing its autonomy, vibration resistance, and measurement accuracy. In Phase III, the awardee will deliver a fully functional Mobile RAVEN Observatory that can replace existing fixed observatories and be easily relocated. The technology falls under the Directed Energy (DE) critical technology area and is subject to export control regulations. The solicitation is open until October 18, 2023. For more information, visit the DoD SBIR 23.3 BAA on



The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: The goal is to develop a transportable/mobile optical telescope observatory using a Raven-class telescope (aperture of 0.4 to 1.2 meters in size) that can be relocated to remote locations over paved/gravel/dirt roads. The system will be fully functional and autonomous in remote locations, which includes network access (WiFi/StarLink/etc.) and self-contained power source. The observatory should be easily deployed/set-up (1-2 person crew) and optimized for autonomous observations.

DESCRIPTION: The USSF has a need for a telescope system that can be relocated to support one-time observation events, just-in-time requirements in a specific geographic location, or to fill temporary coverage gaps. As a result, a mobile telescope system could best provide the required observations without a human present for collection. The mobile system must have the same capability as its fixed location counterparts (Raven network). To effectively accomplish its mission, it must consist of a dome/cover, telescope, mount, camera, filter wheel, and various satellite characterization filters. Additionally, it must contain compute resources for observatory control, telescope control, image processing, analysis, and data distribution. It must be transportable using its own power, or using a government standard vehicle such as a car or pickup truck. Lastly, the system should be designed to be easily deployable with minimal crew and capable of autonomous collection capability.

PHASE I: Phase I awardees will develop a mobile Raven Observatory design and perform finite element analysis to demonstrate the system's ability to survive transport over various terrains (asphalt, gravel, and dirt roads). The system should be equipped with a vibration suppression/shock absorption system to protect the telescope and its associated optics. The observatory must also be able to determine its location and perform any self-alignment required by the mount before operating. The observatory must have the ability to operate remotely and autonomously.

PHASE II: In Phase II, awardees will construct a prototype of their Phase 1 design. This prototype will be tested to confirm the finite element analysis performed in Phase 1. The autonomy of the observatory will be demonstrated and validated along with a checkout of the optical system after vibration/shock testing. Additionally, the system will be tested to determine measurement accuracy.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: In Phase III, the awardee will deliver a fully functional Mobile Raven Observatory that can serve as a functional replacement for any of the in-service, fixed Raven observatories while also providing the option for easy relocation.



KEYWORDS: mobile optical telescope observatory; raven telescope; commercial off the shelf telescope