BOULDER, Colo., Oct. 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and the non-profit B612 Foundation have signed a contract for Ball to create prototype infrared imaging sensors for the Sentinel Mission, a deep space mission to protect Earth by providing early warning of threatening asteroids. Ball's detector design characterization initiates the first phase of developing Sentinel's 20-inch diameter, space-based infrared telescope.
Sentinel is led by B612, a group of highly regarded scientists and explorers whose goal is to build, launch, and operate the first privately funded deep space mission. The mission will create a comprehensive and dynamic map of the inner solar system to catalog 90 percent of the asteroids larger than 140 meters in Earth's region of the solar system. The map will detail the paths of asteroids during the next 100 years to provide decades of notice of threatening asteroids on a collision course with Earth.
Ball's advanced detector technology is responsible for many of the most spectacular space images ever taken, including those returned by the Kepler mission, the Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes, the Deep Impact mission and the HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. These missions developed flight proven deep space systems that will be used to minimize the technical and programmatic risks on the Sentinel mission. Ball's state-of-the-art Detector Technology Center which opened in 2006 will play a critical role in producing the Sentinel camera.
"Sentinel is unique because it relies on proven systems that will now be leveraged for a privately-funded mission," said Cary Ludtke, vice president and general manager of Ball's Civil and Operational Space strategic business unit.
"Ball was our first and only choice as the major contractor for Sentinel," said Ed Lu, Chairman, B612 Foundation. "The company is a pioneer in space observatories with a track record of excellence spanning more than 55 years. We are thrilled to have them as our partner."
The B612 Foundation recently announced the formation and initial findings of its Sentinel Special Review Team (SSRT). The SSRT's first charge was a review of the technical requirements and management structure for Sentinel and proposed plan evaluation. This successful review was conducted September 11-13 in Boulder, where the Sentinel spacecraft will be built.
Sentinel will launch into a Venus-like orbit around the sun, which significantly improves the efficiency of asteroid discovery during its 6.5-year mission. By creating a map of the solar system in Earth's neighborhood, Sentinel will enable future robotic and manned exploration. The mission data will also detect and track myriad objects potentially hazardous to humanity, and provide decades of warning of impending impacts, enough to easily deflect threatening asteroids using existing technology.
To date, only about one percent of the nearly one million asteroids that could potentially hit Earth with devastating consequences have been observed and tracked. In just the first few weeks of operation, Sentinel will surpass this total, and during the first five years of operation, is expected to discover 50 times more near-Earth asteroids than have been found by all other telescopes throughout history combined. Sentinel will take approximately five years to complete development and testing, to be ready for launch in 2017-2018.
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. supports critical missions for 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. For more information visit www.ballaerospace.com.
Ball Corporation (NYSE: BLL) is a supplier of high quality packaging for beverage, food and household products customers, and of aerospace and other technologies and services, primarily for the U.S. government. Ball Corporation and its subsidiaries employ more than 14,500 people worldwide and reported 2011 sales of more than $8.6 billion. For the latest Ball news and for other company information, please visit http://www.ball.com.
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 on our website and at www.sec.gov. Factors that might affect our packaging segments include fluctuation in product demand and preferences; availability and cost of raw materials; competitive packaging availability, pricing and substitution; changes in climate and weather; crop yields; competitive activity; failure to achieve anticipated productivity improvements or production cost reductions; mandatory deposit or other restrictive packaging laws; changes in major customer or supplier contracts or loss of a major customer or supplier; political instability and sanctions; and changes in foreign exchange rates or tax rates. 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; changes in senior management; the recent global recession and its effects on liquidity, credit risk, asset values and the economy; successful or unsuccessful acquisitions; regulatory action or laws including tax, environmental, health and workplace safety, including U.S. FDA and other actions affecting products filled in our containers, or chemicals or substances used in raw materials or in the manufacturing process; 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; uncertainties surrounding the U.S. government budget and debt limit; reduced cash flow; interest rates affecting our debt; and changes to unaudited results due to statutory audits or other effects.
SOURCE Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.