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Kepler Mirror Arrives at Ball Aerospace for Test and Integration
August 8, 2006
BOULDER, Colo. –– The largest optical mirror ever built for a mission beyond Earth’s orbit has arrived at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. for environmental testing and spacecraft integration.
NASA’s Kepler mission, with a field of view 70,000 times greater than the Hubble Space Telescope, will attempt to detect Earth-like planets orbiting stars beyond our solar system. By continuously monitoring the brightness of more than 100,000 stars, Kepler will search for planets that transit in front of stars. As a planet passes in front of its parent star, Kepler will detect the star’s brightness change to determine the planet's size and orbit. The possible discovery of Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of other stars will be the first step in determining the extent of life in our galaxy.
Ball Aerospace is the prime contractor for the Kepler mission, managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the NASA Ames Research Center. In addition to the 0.95-meter photometer, Ball Aerospace is building the spacecraft, and will perform system integration and testing. The 1.4-meter primary mirror was produced by subcontractor L-3 Communications Brashear.
“Arrival of the technologically advanced Kepler mirror is an important milestone,” said David L. Taylor, president and chief executive officer of Ball Aerospace. “By leveraging our spacecraft design from the successful Deep Impact mission and our instrument expertise from the Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope, we will further contribute to NASA’s search for extrasolar planets.”
Kepler, which is scheduled to launch in 2008, was one of two NASA Discovery-class missions selected in 2001.
Ball Aerospace is celebrating its 50th year in business in 2006. The company began building pointing controls for military rockets in 1956, and later won a contract to build one of NASA’s first spacecraft, the Orbiting Solar Observatory. Over the years, the company has been responsible for numerous technological and scientific ‘firsts’ and now acts as a technology innovator in important national missions.
Ball Corporation is a supplier of high-quality metal and plastic packaging products and owns Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., which develops sensors, spacecraft, systems and components for government and commercial customers. Ball reported 2005 sales of $5.8 billion and the company employs 15,600 people worldwide.
This news 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 in Exhibit 99.2 in our 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 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; fruit, vegetable and fishing 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; and the effect of LIFO accounting. Factors that might affect our aerospace segment include: funding, authorization, availability and returns of government contracts; and delays, extensions and technical uncertainties affecting segment contracts. Factors that might affect the company as a whole include those listed plus: 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; changes to the company's pension plans; reduced cash flow; interest rates affecting our debt; and changes to unaudited results due to statutory audits or other effects.