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Ball Aerospace Delivers Orbital Express NextSat Spacecraft
August 24, 2006
Boulder, Colo.- Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. announced today the successful delivery of the NextSat Commodities Spacecraft (NextSat/CSC) to The Boeing Company’s Orbital Express (OE) program for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Scheduled to launch late this year, OE is designed to demonstrate technological readiness of autonomous satellite servicing.
“On-schedule delivery of the next-generation OE spacecraft furthers the development of robotic refueling, configuration and repair of spacecraft on orbit,” said David L. Taylor, president and chief executive officer of Ball Aerospace. “Ball Aerospace is proud to contribute to innovative technologies and program performance that advance new missions and new capabilities for our nation’s defense.”
The satellite demonstration mission is set to conduct the first autonomous component exchange and first U.S. refueling, as well as autonomous rendezvous and docking. The dual-satellite mission includes the Autonomous Space Transfer and Robotic Orbiter, or ASTRO, built by the The Boeing Company, and NextSat/CSC, launched in a “stacked” or mated flight configuration. The two spacecraft are designed to transfer between them spacecraft fuel and an Orbital Replacement Unit containing a back-up battery. Later in the three-month mission, the two spacecraft are scheduled to separate and demonstrate a rendezvous and capture sequence.
The NextSat/CSC has a dual role in the Orbital Express mission. It will emulate the ‘client’ spacecraft needing service, and as the ‘commodities’ spacecraft. In an active spacecraft constellation the commodities spacecraft would be an orbiting depot storing fuel and replacement or upgraded spacecraft components.
The NextSat spacecraft bus design is based on the Ball Aerospace-built Impactor spacecraft for the Deep Impact program that successfully fulfilled its mission by colliding with comet Tempel 1 in 2005. The Impactor was able to autonomously steer itself into the path of comet Tempel 1 last year, using similar technologies that the NextSat/CSC spacecraft bus will use to demonstrate rendezvous and capture sequences during its mission.
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 for important national missions.
Ball Corporation is a supplier of high-quality metal and plastic packaging products and owns Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Ball reported 2005 sales of $5.8 billion and employs 15,600 people.
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.