The scientist André Callier establishes Optique et Instruments de Précision in Ghent.
Spare parts and repair of optical instruments (Belgian Army).
Development of high-tech optics: photo camera objectives, binoculars, compasses, microscopes and telescopes.
From the 60s on, OIP played a pioneering role in the emerging electro-optics technology as one of the first companies in Europe specialising in Defence & Industry markets.
An example is the development and production of the first Head-up Display for jet fighters.
First man on the moon. On July 20th, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the Moon. The Apollo 11 mission was a great success.
One small step for man, but a giant leap for mankind!
From the 80s onwards, OIP expanded its ‘borders’ and participated for the first time in ‘Space’ applications, creating a new core business for OIP.
A Space Department was founded; allowing the company to produce small electro-optical subunits as part of main instruments, in order to gain more and more experience.
Move from Ghent to a modern industrial site, located in Oudenaarde.
First participation in a space project with the development of the CPF (Critical Point Facility), a sophisticated opto-electronic minilab for scientific experiments in Space. The CPF instrument, designed & built for ESA (as a subcontractor for ERNO-Bremen) was put in orbit by NASA’s Space shuttle STS-42 & STS-65 and had successful flights with Spacelab IML-1 and IML-2 missions.
From the mid-90s onwards, OIP started to explore the world of miniaturisation. This way, established as an optical company, OIP returned to its roots and started to develop cameras to be used in harsh Space environments.
The first development was the Visual Telemetry System (VTS), which was flown on Teamsat. The success of the camera smoothened the path to integrate miniature cameras in various ESA missions. This brought about both public relations output, as well as useful scientific return (monitoring). A new OIP product line was born: ‘CAMERAS’
Over the years, OIP gained a large experience directly related to the Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC) development. Lessons were learned from the VTS in order to improve the performance and to reduce the physical size (mass, weight) and power. All VMCs were successfully flown and produced stunning images of spacecraft separations, solar panel deployments, planets, etc.
After almost a decade of miniaturisation, OIP began to explore the domain of spectrometers. Being involved in electro-optical and opto-mechanical subunits of spectrometer instruments, OIP first participated in several feasibility studies on imaging spectrometers, all financed by the European Space Agency (ESA).
Spectrometer development at the start of the new millennium
After a successful completion of the AMIRIS study (Airborne Mid IR Imaging Spectrometer), OIP started its biggest Space project since the founding of the Space department: APEX (Airborne Prism Experiment), a push broom hyperspectral imaging spectrometer, intended as a calibration and validation device for future spaceborne hyperspectral imagers.
As part of a Technology Demonstration Mission, OIP developed a High Resolution Camera (HRC) which was fitted on the Belgian Proba-platform. Designed for a lifetime of 1 year, the camera is still fully functional and operational after 19 years (!) on Proba-1 in Space! The HRC has become a veteran, but is still catching some nice views of Mother Earth.
OIP participated in its first Meteosat Second Generation mission with the GERB (Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget) telescope optics, part of the GERB instrument; a spectrometer to understand the Earth’s climate balance. 3 telescopes would follow, all with successful flights; respectively in 2005, 2012 and 2015.
OIP was considerably involved in the SCIAMACHY instrument which was flown on ESA’s cornerstone mission ‘Envisat’, by producing opto-electronic modules inside the optical assembly of the spectrometer for polarisation measurements, sun-pointing and calibration during the flight.
Journey to Venus! The SOIR (Solar Occultation InfraRed Spectrometer) is a compact spaceborne high resolution multispectral spectrometer, developed for ESA’s Venus Express (VEX) spacecraft and integrated in the SPICAV instrument.
SOIR measures absorption spectra of minor constituents in the Venusian atmosphere. It uses an echelle grating, in combination with an IR acousto-optic tunable filter (AOTF) for wavelength filtering. This instrument paved the path for future AOTF based spectrometer developments.
APEX (Airborne Prism EXperiment) was delivered to prime contractor RUAG Space by the end of 2008 and completed a successful acceptance flight campaign above Switzerland in June 2009.
After successful realisation of several instruments on important ESA missions, i.e. DECMEC (Herschel), SOIR (Venus-Express), MIRI-IOC (JWST), SWAP-FPA (Proba-2), .. it was time to take the Space activities to a new level, i.e. becoming System Integrator.
Becoming system integrator …
OIP became the payload prime for an all Belgian mission: Proba-V; a challenging mission, intended to be a gap-filler between the existing Vegetation Monitoring Programs (SPOT Végétation) and Sentinel.
First development and complete integration of an instrument on a PROBA-V satellite.
The instrument was successfully launched on May 7th, 2013 from Kourou (French Guiana) on a Vega VV02 launcher. The instrument already ‘opened’ its eyes to the Earth on May 15th and produced a stunning first light image of the Brittany Coast.
OIP’s NOMAD instrument is launched on board the TGO (ExoMars 2016) for a journey to Mars, in order to study the red planet’s atmosphere.
OIP was also honoured to have a second passenger on the Exomars 2016 mission, i.e. a small visual monitoring camera (the re-used flight space Herschel-Planck camera re-named DECA) to monitor the descent of the Lander Module towards Mars. This means that – once its mission is completed – the camera will stay on the Mars surface and will thus become the first hardware developed by OIP to rest on extra-terrestrial surface.
The company is celebrating its 100th anniversary; an opportunity to bring “Space Engineering” closer to the people…
Welcome OIP Space Instruments !!!