Optical Test Facility

Optical Testing, Calibration & Metrology


The VCA provides a means of testing large optical systems in a space-like environment.

The Optical Testing Facility (OTF) located at Ball Aerospace’s Boulder campus provides inspection, testing and cleaning of a wide array of optical components and systems. With expertise in the most advanced optical technologies, our staff offers upfront and in-process consultation services for optical systems and component designs that must achieve high levels of performance under very challenging conditions.

Our facility provides calibrated, traceable, Ball-owned equipment operated by engineers and technologists who have years of in-depth experience testing flight optical systems for airborne and space applications. All test data is maintained in an ISO 9001-certified data archive.

The OTF facility is used for Ball programs, but is available to other optical technology companies who need rigorous testing in a fully-qualified environment. For more information and specifications on Ball’s Optical Test Facilities and services, please contact Mark Martella.

Test Areas

The OTF encompasses ten different labs/test areas designed to accommodate a wide range of high-accuracy test operations, including vacuum and cryogenic testing.

The Universal Collimator Assembly

The Universal Collimator Assembly (UCA) provides optical testing of components or systems as large as 1.5 meters in diameter in a thermal vacuum environment. The UCA includes a horizontal and a vertical collimator assembly. The goal of the UCA is to provide high-accuracy system-level test, calibration, performance characterization, and integration support of large-aperture imaging optical systems in a space-qualified environment.  

OSTF Test Station 1

OSTF Test Facility

The Optical System Test Facility

The Optical System Test Facility (OSTF) provides high-accuracy system-level test, calibration, performance characterization, and integration support of large-aperture imaging optical systems. This full complement of system alignment, test, and calibration capabilities in a class 7 (class 10,000) environment is available to all customers on a scheduled basis. The facility allows for a large range in the size and configuration of optical systems and components.

The Radiometric Calibration Lab

The Radiometric Calibration Lab (RCL) is capable of performing spectral radiance and irradiance calibrations that are traceable directly to National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) radiometric standards.
Available instrumentation includes: NIST traceable calibration lamps and diffusers, integrating spheres of various sizes, detectors, spectrometers, collimators, and other equipment necessary for the radiometric characterization and calibration of optical and near-infrared sensors. 



Spatial Metrology

Ball Aerospace’s Spatial Metrology function uses a combination of measurement instrumentation including theodolites, portable coordinate measurement machines, laser trackers and software to map out structures in two or three-dimensions.

Cryo-Optical Testing

The Cryogenic Optical Testing (COT) Facility is dedicated to provide high-quality testing of optical components and optical systems at cryogenic temperatures. Additionally, the COT function will provide technical information for test procedure development.

This facility supports customer needs for cryogenic optical testing including: Surface figure distortions, transmitted wavefront error, pointing stability, spectral transmittance, relative linear distance measurements, thermal cycling for exposure and repeatability, temperature ranges from 4 – 300K, controlled thermal ramp rates, and the capability of creating high vacuum pressures. 



OLI Stray Light Test Facility

Operational Land Imager (OLI) in the Stray Light Test Facility

Stray Light Testing Facility

The Stray Light Testing Facility (SLTF) is a state-of-the-art facility designed for system level stray light testing of various instruments. The facility has the ability to measure a response with apertures as large as 19 inches in diameter. The facility is capable of system level measurements of visible to shortwave infrared instruments. In addition, the facility is a Class 5 cleanroom designed to impose superior contamination control of the test environment. This facility can be operated for 30 days as a temporary secure work area (TSWA) for testing of classified hardware.

Heliostat Testing

The Heliostat Test Facility provides solar calibrations of instruments in a flight-like environment. The facility consists of a three-mirror relay that tracks the sun and delivers a 13-inch highly uniform beam to an instrument or spacecraft within a 10-foot thermal vacuum chamber. Characterization of spectral transmission, beam uniformity, polarization, and ambient light is performed regularly to track system performance. The heliostat can be operated 365 days a year, weather permitting. 


The Optical Properties Measurement and Inspection Lab (OPMIL) has a long heritage of providing measurements of optical component properties and other materials including metals, finishes, and paints. Various test stations in the OPMIL lab are used to measure reflectance, transmittance, scatter (BRDF), surface roughness, surface figure, transmitted wavefront, and other related measurements. OPMIL operates in a very large range of the electro-magnetic spectrum, having the capability to measure between 185nm to 25µm.


The Laser Imaging, Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) lab is available to support the integration and testing of multiple LIDAR technologies and is also suited for high power laser usage with interlocked and secure areas available. 

Star Tracker Laboratories

Star trackers at Ball Aerospace are developed with two different accuracies and are tested primarily using two different systems.

The High Accuracy Luminous Object Simulator (HALOS) is a test facility for the calibration and qualification of star trackers. This automated test system can test any tracker in two axes. The absolute angular accuracy of the system is better than 5 arc seconds. Testing is done in vacuum and temperatures are remotely controlled.

The Better Accuracy Test System (BATS) is the primary system for testing and verifying high accuracy star tracker performance. BATS features changeable simulated star positions, tracker position monitoring, a thermally and mechanically monitored pinhole star source, 12-inch collimated image, image movement simulation, changeable image size, vacuum capable and remote control. The system has a large two axes field-of-view. Additionally, BATS measures angular errors across the field-of-view and can track moving stars.


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