Ball Aerospace Delivers Software for James Webb Space Telescope Wavefront Sensing & Control

September 14, 2011

BOULDER, Colo., Sept. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --  Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. has delivered Wavefront Sensing & Control (WFS&C) software for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to prime contractor Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.  The WFS&C software contains the sophisticated mathematical algorithms that will be used to align and phase the telescope's eighteen 1.3 meter hexagonal primary mirror segments to perform as a single monolithic mirror.  


From the outset of the JWST program, WFS&C was identified as a key new technology.  Due to its size, the Webb telescope must be launched in a stowed configuration and aligned on orbit.  This design feature has contributed to the critical accuracy required of WFS&C software, which was rigorously tested using Ball's fully functional, one-sixth scale Webb Telescope Testbed as well as detailed computer simulations of the future observatory.

The WFS&C software package is designed to provide vital flexibility in control of the telescope optics to optimize system performance on orbit, even in the presence of unforeseen problems.  In addition to co-phasing the individual segments to operate as a single mirror, the software allows the primary mirror segments and the secondary mirror to be adjusted from the ground, to compensate for optical distortions that may occur in the observatory throughout the life of the mission.

"The world-class optical system Ball is providing for the Webb Telescope draws on our extensive experience providing space hardware for NASA's observatories," said David L. Taylor, president and CEO of Ball Aerospace.  "And much like the unexpected benefits from technology developed for Hubble, the Webb's wavefront sensing technology is already being used in new commercial applications."

On September 13, 2011, NASA announced the completion of the mirror coating process at Quantum Coating Inc., in Moorestown, N.J., marking yet another major milestone in development of the Webb Telescope.

Ball Aerospace is the principal optical subcontractor for the JWST program, led by prime contractor Northrop Grumman Space Technology, under a contract from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, MD.  Delivery of the advanced software marks the culmination of a decade-long effort.  

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. For more information visit

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 2010 sales of more than $7.6 billion. For the latest Ball news and for other company information, please visit

Forward-Looking Statements

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 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.