A telescope to be installed on the lunar surface in the near future must work in a cold and dusty vacuum environment for long periods without on site human maintenance. To track stars, the drive mechanism must be capable of exceedingly fine steps and repeatability. Further, the use of lightweight telescopes for obvious economic benefits burdens the requirement for stable support and rotation. Conventional contact bearings and gear drives have numerous failure modes under such a restrictive and harsh environment. However, hybrid superconducting magnetic bearings (HSMB) fit in naturally. These bearings are stable, light, passive, and essentially frictionless, allowing high precision electronic positioning control. By passive levitation, the HSMB does not wear out and requires neither maintenance nor power. A prototype illustrating the feasability of this application is presented.
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