Press Release

Ball Aerospace Delivers Imaging Instrument for NASA’s Mission to Pluto

By SpaceRef Editor
April 11, 2005
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Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. has delivered a high-resolution visible and infrared digital imager/spectrometer to the Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) and its partner The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) for flight aboard NASA’s proposed New Horizons Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission. Code-named Ralph, the instrument is designed to collect high resolution black and white and color images, and surface composition and temperature maps of Pluto, its moon Charon, and images of celestial bodies deep in the Kuiper Belt, far beyond Pluto’s orbit. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center manages NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which includes the Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission. Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) is implementing the mission. Dr. Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SWRI), is the mission’s principal investigator.

According to President and CEO David Taylor, “Ralph is a critical instrument for the success of the New Horizons mission and a milestone for our company, since it will go deeper into space than any previous spacecraft or instrument built by Ball Aerospace.”

As part of the New Horizons mission to Pluto, Ralph is one of seven instruments that will enable scientists to better understand the last unexplored planet at the edge of our solar system. According to Dr. Stern, “Ralph is the centerpiece of the New Horizons payload and it will revolutionize what we know about Pluto, Charon, and Kuiper Belt objects.”

Because of Pluto’s great distance from the Sun — 32 times farther than Earth’s — Ralph’s digital imaging capabilities are designed to obtain data at light levels 1,000 times more faint than daylight on Earth. Small but robust, Ralph weighs only 24 pounds, and draws less than seven watts of electricity when operating, or just enough to run a household nightlight.

The New Horizons mission is scheduled to launch in January 2006. As a warm-up to Pluto, the spacecraft will also conduct new surveys of Jupiter on its path to the outer reaches of the solar system. The mission is expected to intercept the distant Pluto and Charon in July 2015. After this rendezvous, the spacecraft will then fly deep into the Kuiper Belt, an extensive billion-mile-wide body of miniature planets, comets and debris believed to have been formed at the genesis of the solar system.

Ball Corporation is a supplier of high-quality metal and plastic packaging products to the beverage and food industries. The company also owns Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., which develops sensors, spacecraft, systems and components for government and commercial markets. Ball employs more than 13,200 people worldwide and reported 2004 sales of $5.4 billion. The company is celebrating its 125th year in 2005.

Forward-Looking Statements

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; availability and cost of raw materials, particularly the 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; lack of productivity improvement or production cost reductions; 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 technical uncertainty associated with 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 environmental and workplace safety; governmental investigations; goodwill impairment; antitrust and other litigation; strikes; boycotts; increases in employee benefits and labor costs; 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.

SpaceRef staff editor.