SVS has recently completed a phase II small business innovative research (SBIR) project called low cost space imager (LCSI). As part of the SBIR project, a sparse aperture telescope design concept was developed. This design includes an optical control system capable of correcting the primary segments to within 38 nm piston and 17 nrad tilt as required by the optical tolerance analysis. The optical system utilizes a common secondary and primaries arranged in a Golay-6 configuration. The primaries are spherical, which eliminates the need for translation and rotation control. A laboratory experiment to validate the controls concept has been completed. This experiment culminated in the demonstration of autonomous capture, alignment, and phasing of an optical system with a three segment primary to tolerances consistent with the space optical system. The implementation of the controls scheme in the laboratory experiment is done using Matlab/Simulink for controller design and code generation the code is implemented real-time on a VME based computer system. Closed loop piston control, which utilizes a four-bin sensing scheme, of an actuated mirror to 25 nm RMS mirror motion has been demonstrated. Additionally, autonomous capture and phasing of three segmented primaries has been demonstrated. The technique for the phasing capture involves real-time implementation of image processing techniques to measure the white light fringe visibility in the far field.© (1998) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.