Space and astronomy news and information for the American Southwest. Coverage includes Vandenberg AFB rocket and missile launches.

CloudSat Concludes Environmental Testing

Ball Aerospace & Technologies News Release

2005 March 3

BOULDER, Colo. - CloudSat, part of the multi-satellite, multi-sensor NASA experiment designed to measure the properties of clouds, has successfully concluded its final environmental test and was mated to the flight adapter interface in preparation for launch. The spacecraft underwent thermal vacuum, electromagnetic conductance, electromagnetic interference, vibration, shock and acoustic testing. Together, these tests mimic the harsh conditions of space.

Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. is building the CloudSat spacecraft, including testing and integrating the payload, as part of NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) program, which fosters innovative, low-cost Earth observation missions designed to study the Earth as a global environmental system.

Ball Aerospace will also perform CloudSat launch operations and initial on-orbit commissioning. CloudSat is scheduled to be launched jointly with its Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) sister satellite later this year. Ball Aerospace built the lidar and wide field camera for CALIPSO.

The combination of data from the CloudSat radar, with coincident measurements from CALIPSO will provide a rich source of information that can be used to assess the role of clouds in both weather and climate. Both CloudSat and CALIPSO will be part of a constellation of satellites, known as the “A-Train,” flying in orbital formation to provide detailed observations of the Earth’s environment.

CloudSat is designed around the proven Ball Commercial Platform (BCP) 2000 spacecraft bus, which can accept any type of Earth-sensing instrumentation requiring precise pointing control, yet maintain the flexibility for rapid target selection. The BCP 2000 has successfully flown on high-profile programs including QuickBird, QuikSCAT and ICESat.

Ball Aerospace, in cooperation with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) and Colorado State University, developed the spacecraft bus which houses the instruments and sensors to be used to measure the properties of clouds that are critical for a better understanding of both weather and climate.

Ball Corporation (NYSE: BLL) 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.

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