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Ball Aerospace's NextSat Launched for Orbital Express Mission
March 9, 2007
The NextSat spacecraft built by Ball Aerospace is mated with the Autonomous Space Transfer and Robotic Orbiter built by the Boeing Company. The Orbital Express dual-satellite mission launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., on Thursday March 9.
BOULDER, CO – The first-of-its kind, autonomous servicing demonstration satellite launched on Thursday, March 8, 2007, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The three-month space mission is sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The Orbital Express (OE) Advanced Technology Demonstration Program dual-satellite mission, includes the Next Generation Satellite and Commodities Spacecraft (NextSat/CSC), built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., and the Autonomous Space Transfer and Robotic Orbiter (ASTRO) built by The Boeing Company. The mission is designed to demonstrate the capability of robotic refueling, autonomous rendezvous and docking, as well as repairs and equipment upgrades of a spacecraft on-orbit.
“This pioneering demonstration advances critical technologies that support national security missions,” said David L. Taylor, president and chief executive officer of Ball Aerospace. “A successful Orbital Express demonstration could revolutionize future space systems both in terms of cost and the extension of spacecraft life.”
The two spacecraft are designed to transfer between them spacecraft fuel and two Orbital Replacement Units, a battery and computer. On orbit they will separate and demonstrate rendezvous and capture from increasing distances and levels of autonomy. Ball Aerospace's NextSat/CSC employs architecture adapted from the successful Deep Impact Impactor, including software, command and data handling, and power switching; as well as elements from BCP-2000, such as the narrow-band telecom architecture from the Ball-built CloudSat. The Deep Impact Impactor was able to autonomously steer itself into the path of comet Tempel 1in 2005, using similar technologies that the NextSat/CSC spacecraft bus will use to demonstrate rendezvous and capture sequences during its mission.
The prototype ASTRO servicing satellite and the surrogate next generation serviceable satellite, NextSat system were a payload on the Air Force Space Test Program STP-1 mission. The Orbital Express program is funded through DARPA and managed by The Boeing Company. The Orbital Express contractor team includes Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boeing, Northrop Grumman Corporation, McDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd., Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc. and Starsys Research Corp.
Ball Aerospace supports critical missions of important national agencies such as the Department of Defense, NASA, NOAA and other U.S. government and commercial entities. The company develops and manufactures spacecraft, advanced instruments and sensors, components, data exploitation systems and RF solutions for strategic, tactical and scientific applications. Over the past 50 years, Ball Aerospace has been responsible for numerous technological and scientific “firsts” and now acts as a technology innovator for the aerospace market.
Ball Corporation is a supplier of high-quality metal and plastic packaging products and owns Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Ball reported 2006 sales of $6.6 billion and employs 15,500 people .
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 and preferences; availability and cost of raw materials, including due to the effects of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as well as 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; 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 delays, extensions and technical uncertainties affecting 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 tax, environmental and workplace safety; governmental investigations; technological developments and innovations; goodwill impairment; antitrust, patent and other litigation; strikes; boycotts; labor cost changes; 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.