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Ball's Deep Impact Spacecraft Prepares to Meet Comet Tempel 1
June 27, 2005
BOULDER, Colo. - In one of the most daring deep space missions NASA has ever undertaken, the Deep Impact spacecraft, designed and built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., is entering the final days of a six-month journey to reach comet Tempel 1 on Independence Day. Approximately 24 hours before the encounter, the Impactor spacecraft will separate from the Flyby spacecraft and autonomously move directly into the path of the approaching comet. The encounter with Tempel 1 will occur nearly 83 million miles from Earth and at closing speeds approaching 23,000 miles-per-hour.
"Deep Impact is a highly technical and complicated mission," said David L. Taylor, president and CEO of Ball Aerospace. "Together with our teammates at NASA, JPL and the University of Maryland, we built a one-of-a-kind spacecraft to expand our knowledge of comets," Taylor added.
The Impactor is expected to vaporize upon impact. The kinetic energy of the collision is expected to create a crater the size of a football field and propel material from the comet's nucleus into space. Deep Impact's telescopes, cameras and spectrometer aboard the Flyby spacecraft will monitor the impact from a vantage point of about 300 miles away and return data on the pristine material in the crater and other surface material ejected by the impact. The Flyby spacecraft's Medium Resolution Imager (MRI) and High Resolution Imager (HRI), the latter of which is the largest interplanetary telescope ever flown, will record the details of the collision. The Impactor spacecraft will also provide close-encounter photos of the comet just prior to collision, giving scientists the most complete view of a comet to date.
The impact will be observed by multiple Ball-built cameras. In addition to the instruments on the Deep Impact spacecraft, NASA's Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra observatories will also capture images of the event. Ball produced key technologies for all three of these missions. Ball Aerospace developed and integrated the Flyby spacecraft, the Impactor spacecraft, and science instruments, including three telescopes, three cameras and a spectrometer for analyzing the interior of the comet. Deep Impact is the eighth mission in NASA's Discovery Program, and the first mission to attempt to impact with a comet nucleus in order to probe beneath its surface.
Ball Corporation (NYSE: BLL) is a supplier of metal and plastic packaging products, primarily for the beverage and food industries. The company also owns Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., which develops sensors, spacecraft, systems and components for government and commercial markets. Ball Corporation employs more than 13,200 people and reported 2004 sales of $5.4 billion.
Note to Editors:
Ball Aerospace’s role in the Deep Impact mission is featured in a new Video News Release (VNR), which is being made available to national broadcast media during the week of June 27, 2005. Senior team members note the design challenges in making the spacecraft and exude the excitement that accompanies this daring, one-of-a-kind mission. The VNR may be viewed at the following address:
The information in this news release contains "forward-looking" statements and other statements concerning future events and financial performance. Words such as "expects," "anticipates," "estimates," and variations of same and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking 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 the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, especially in Exhibit 99.2 in the most recent Form 10-K. These filings 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; availability and cost of raw materials, particularly the 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; fruit, vegetable and fishing yields; industry productive capacity and competitive activity; lack of productivity improvement or production cost reductions; the German mandatory deposit or other restrictive packaging laws; changes in major customer or supplier contracts or loss of a major customer or supplier; international business risks, including foreign exchange rates, tax rates and activities of foreign subsidiaries; and the effect of LIFO accounting on earnings. Factors that might affect aerospace segment include: funding, authorization and availability of government contracts and the nature and continuation of those contracts; and technical uncertainty associated with segment contracts. Factors that could affect the company as a whole include those listed plus: acquisitions, joint ventures or divestitures; regulatory action or laws including environmental and workplace safety; governmental investigations; goodwill impairment; antitrust and other litigation; strikes; boycotts; increases in employee benefits and labor costs; rates of return projected and earned on assets of the company's defined benefit retirement plans; reduced cash flow; interest rates affecting our debt; and changes to unaudited results due to statutory audits or management's evaluation of the company's internal control over financial reporting.