"These milestones allow the Kepler mission to enter the next phase of development and demonstrate Ball Aerospace's intent to successfully move the program forward," said Cary Ludtke, Vice President and General Manager for Ball's Civil and Operational Space business unit.
The Kepler instrument is a custom-built, 0.95-meter aperture Schmidt telescope, with a 1.4-meter primary mirror, and an array of 46 charge coupled devices (CCDs) at the focus. It features a focal plane array of 95 megapixels that will measure the brightness of 100,000 stars every 30 minutes in a search for Earth-size planets around stars in our galaxy.
Coating the primary mirror culminates a four-year development program to design and build a large, light-weight mirror for use in space. The enhanced, silver coating technology used for the primary mirror was provided by Surface Optics Corporation and is designed to provide the NASA mission with the sensitivity needed to detect planets as they pass in front of stars. With the primary mirror complete, integration of the telescope using the 0.95 m Schmidt corrector and composite housing is now underway.
The advanced integration and functional testing of the Ball -- designed and manufactured CCD Detector Module array and detector electronics were completed at Ball's Detector Technology Center, opened in 2006.
Ball Aerospace is also building the spacecraft for the Kepler mission, which is scheduled to launch in February, 2009.
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. 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 acts as a technology innovator for the aerospace market.
Ball Corporation is a supplier of high-quality metal and plastic packaging products for beverage, food and household customers, and of aerospace and other technologies and services, primarily for the U.S. government. Ball Corporation and its subsidiaries employ more than 15,500 people worldwide and reported 2006 sales of $6.6 billion.
The NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., is the home organization of the science principal investigator and is responsible for the ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. Kepler mission development is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
This 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 Exhibit 99.2 in our Form 10-K, which are available at our Web site and at http://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; crop 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; and changes in foreign exchange rates, tax rates and activities of foreign subsidiaries. Factors that might affect our aerospace segment include: funding, authorization, availability and returns of government and commercial contracts; and delays, extensions and technical uncertainties affecting segment contracts. Factors that might affect the company as a whole include those listed plus: accounting changes; successful or unsuccessful 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; pension changes; reduced cash flow; interest rates affecting our debt; and changes to unaudited results due to statutory audits or other effects.
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