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. Our staff also offers upfront and in-process consultation services for optical system and component design.

Our facility provides calibrated, traceable, company-owned equipment run by qualified and experienced personnel who are experienced in handling flight optics. All OTF data is maintained in an ISO 9001 certified-data archive.

The OTF facilities are available for non-Ball programs. Please contact Mark Martella for more information.

Our capabilities include:

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 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 NIST radiometric standards in the wavelength region from 250 nm – 1000 nm.

Available instrumentation includes: NIST traceable calibration lamps and diffusersSpectralon™ and BaSO4 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 and can provide relationships between features with up to six degrees of freedom. 

Cryo-Optical Testing

The Cryogenic Optical Testing Facility is dedicated to provide high-quality testing of optical components and optical systems at cryogenic temperatures. This facility supports customer needs for cryogenic optical testing including:

  • Surface Figure Distortions 
  • Transmitted Wavefront Error 
  • Pointing Stability 
  • Spectral Transmittance (175 to 3000 nm) 
  • Relative Linear Distance Measurements and 
  • Thermal Cycling for exposure and repeatability.

The facility’s thermal vacuum chambers are equipped to cool test articles from room temperature to  4 degrees Kelvin with a controlled thermal ramp-rate of 0.2 - 3 degrees per minute.



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 is all black and includes a cylindrical chamber to allow for excellent control of stray light. In addition, the facility is a Class 5 cleanroom designed to emphasize 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. The system is highly transmitting from 350 to 2400 nm. 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.  

High Accuracy Luminous Object Simulator

The High Accuracy Luminous Object Simulator (HALOS) is a test facility for the calibration and qualification of all Moderate Accuracy Star Trackers . This automated test system can test any tracker across a field-of-view up to +/-13 degrees in two axes. The absolute angular accuracy of the system is known to better than 0.5 arc-seconds using an interferometric metrology system. Testing is done in vacuum and between temperatures of -20 and 50 degrees Celsius. HALOS can simulate a star with an intensity of more than 0 star magnitudes. Collimation of the star is precisely controlled with the aid of a Shack-Hartmann Wavefront Sensor.


The Optical Properties Measurement and Inspection Lab (OPMIL) has a long heritage of providing measurements of the optical properties of optical components and other materials like metals, finishes and paints. Spectrophotometers, scatterometers, profilometers and interferometers are used to measure reflectance, transmittance, BSDF, surface roughness, surface figure, transmitted wavefront, and other related measurements.



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