From: Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp.
Posted: Friday, March 9, 2007
The first-of-its kind, autonomous servicing demonstration satellite launched on Thursday, March 8, 2007, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The three-month space mission is sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The Orbital Express (OE) Advanced Technology Demonstration Program dual-satellite mission, includes the Next Generation Satellite and Commodities Spacecraft (NextSat/CSC), built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., and the Autonomous Space Transfer and Robotic Orbiter (ASTRO) built by The Boeing Company. The mission is designed to demonstrate the capability of robotic refueling, autonomous rendezvous and docking, as well as repairs and equipment upgrades of a spacecraft on-orbit.
"This pioneering demonstration advances critical technologies that support national security missions," said David L. Taylor, president and chief executive officer of Ball Aerospace. "A successful Orbital Express demonstration could revolutionize future space systems both in terms of cost and the extension of spacecraft life."
The two spacecraft are designed to transfer between them spacecraft fuel and two Orbital Replacement Units, a battery and computer. On orbit they will separate and demonstrate rendezvous and capture from increasing distances and levels of autonomy. Ball Aerospace's NextSat/CSC employs architecture adapted from the successful Deep Impact Impactor, including software, command and data handling, and power switching; as well as elements from BCP-2000, such as the narrow-band telecom architecture from the Ball-built CloudSat. The Deep Impact Impactor was able to autonomously steer itself into the path of comet Tempel 1 in 2005, using similar technologies that the NextSat/CSC spacecraft bus will use to demonstrate rendezvous and capture sequences during its mission.
The prototype ASTRO servicing satellite and the surrogate next generation serviceable satellite, NextSat system were a payload on the Air Force Space Test Program STP-1 mission. The Orbital Express program is funded through DARPA and managed by The Boeing Company. The Orbital Express contractor team includes Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boeing, Northrop Grumman Corporation, McDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd., Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc. and Starsys Research Corp.
Ball Aerospace supports critical missions of important national agencies such as the Department of Defense, NASA, NOAA and other U.S. government and commercial entities. The company develops and manufactures spacecraft, advanced instruments and sensors, components, data exploitation systems and RF solutions for strategic, tactical and scientific applications. Over the past 50 years, Ball Aerospace has been responsible for numerous technological and scientific "firsts" and now acts as a technology innovator for the aerospace market.
Ball Corporation (NYSE: BLL - News) is a supplier of high-quality metal and plastic packaging products and owns Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Ball reported 2006 sales of $6.6 billion and employs 15,500 people.
This release contains "forward-looking" statements concerning future events and financial performance. Words such as "expects," "anticipates," "estimates" and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Such statements are subject to risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied. The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Key risks and uncertainties are summarized in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including Exhibit 99.2 in our Form 10-K, which are available at our Web site and at www.sec.gov. Factors that might affect our packaging segments include fluctuation in consumer and customer demand and preferences; availability and cost of raw materials, including recent significant increases in resin, steel, aluminum and energy costs, and the ability to pass such increases on to customers; competitive packaging availability, pricing and substitution; changes in climate and weather; crop yields; industry productive capacity and competitive activity; failure to achieve anticipated productivity improvements or production cost reductions, including those associated with our beverage can end project; the German mandatory deposit or other restrictive packaging laws; changes in major customer or supplier contracts or loss of a major customer or supplier; changes in foreign exchange rates, tax rates and activities of foreign subsidiaries; the effect of LIFO accounting and any changes to such accounting. Factors that might affect our aerospace segment include: funding, authorization, availability and returns of government and commercial contracts; and delays, extensions and technical uncertainties affecting segment contracts. Factors that might affect the company as a whole include those listed plus: accounting changes; successful or unsuccessful acquisitions, joint ventures or divestitures; integration of recently acquired businesses; regulatory action or laws including tax, environmental and workplace safety; governmental investigations; technological developments and innovations; goodwill impairment; antitrust, patent and other litigation; strikes; labor cost changes; rates of return projected and earned on assets of the company's defined benefit retirement plans; pension changes; reduced cash flow; interest rates affecting our debt; and changes to unaudited results due to statutory audits or other effects.
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