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Space tech developer Electro Optic Systems acquires KiwiStar Optics

12 Apr 2022

New Zealand-based KSO produces precision optics including large diameter telescope lenses and spectrographs.

Electro Optic Systems (EOS), based in Symonston ACT, Australia, has entered into an agreement with Callaghan Innovation to acquire the assets and hire the personnel of KiwiStar, based in Lower Hutt, near Wellington. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Announcing the agreement, Craig Smith, Chief Technology Officer of EOS said, “KiwiStar Optics has unique global capabilities and is a vital supplier to EOS. As Australia’s largest space company, we are delighted to secure and expand this essential part of the space industry.”

KSO produces precision optics, including telescope lenses up to and over 1 meter in diameter and spectrographs.

EOS said it will make a “significant investment” in KSO to protect and grow its technologies. KSO has a small workforce, which is highly trained in precision optics with backgrounds in engineering, physics, mathematics, astronomy and optics.

Investment plans

EOS has been a major customer of KSO for many years, and sees an opportunity to leverage its own global network to expand KSO’s marketing and distribution reach. The buyer will also be investing to add further capability to KSO with new optical equipment via the asset purchase of Arizona Optical Services, a world leader in the manufacture of large aspheric optics. This will augment the existing equipment and skill base of the KSO team.

KiwiStar Optics produces precision optics for astronomy. The company designs, manufactures and installs large precision lenses, astronomical spectrographs, optical components and instruments, and offers end-to-end custom solutions.

The company develops and manufactures the following products:

  • Large precision optics: Telescope lenses in the 0.5 m–1 m range remain a niche market internationally due to the inherent technical challenges in the relevant manufacturing processes. KSO’s master opticians have a specialist skill set that enables the design, milling, polishing and alignment processes to produce high-quality large precision optics.
  • Spectrographs: KSO has significant technical expertise and experience in spectrograph design, manufacture and installation. The KiwiSpec R4 100 (“KiwiSpec”) is an off-the-shelf spectrograph suitable for medium- to large-sized telescopes. The IP ownership of the KiwiSpec is split 60 per cent to KSO and 40 per cent to its designer, Dr Stuart Barnes. KiwiSpecs have been installed internationally, including in Hawaii, the US and Australia.
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