Ball Aerospace Supports Completion of PDR for NASA Mission

By Thomas Price Sunday, January 3, 2021

As space travel is continuing to progress further along, major projects both from private industries and federal organizations have been coming to fruition. Especially as the two industries begin to intermingle more and more, the development toward further innovations and exploration is moving even faster. Of these recent collaborations, Ball Aerospace and NASA have recently come to terms with the completion of the preliminary design review for the new SPHEREx Project, or Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization, and Ices Explorer. So, what exactly is the SPHEREx Project, what is Ball Aerospace’s role in this collaboration, and what can we expect from this project in the future?

What Is the SPHEREx Project?

The SPHEREx Project is a mission that will study the nature of physics. Specifically, how nature in turn led to cosmic inflation at the beginning of the universe. It will also attempt to provide a deeper understanding of the properties of interstellar ices. These interstellar ices are a major place for water storage and biogenic materials for the early stages of formation of both stars and planets.

The final portion of the SPHEREx Project will be probing cosmic history to further understand galaxy formation. The principal investigator for the project will be Dr. James Bock of the California Institute of Technology, and the managing center for it will be NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, or the JPL. The project will require certain technologies and equipment, including a spacecraft and a telescope, among many others. This is where Ball Aerospace comes in. Ball Aerospace’s role in this project will be to design and build a spacecraft, a telescope, as well as provide system integration for the telescope. The company will also be responsible for supporting the integration of the spacecraft onto a launch vehicle. The final step for Ball Aerospace will be “commissioning of the spacecraft after launch.”

The bus being used for the project will be using Ball Aerospace’s proven line of Ball Configurable Platform spacecraft. The Ball Aerospace spacecraft is designed specifically to have varied applications and to remain cost-effective throughout use. For SPHEREx, the spacecraft will be using a common spacecraft bus and standard payload interface in order to keep costs low as well as streamline the payload accommodation and lower the delivery time even more.

The Ball Configurable Platform has been used for many different space discovery missions in the past as well, including Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. On that mission, the spacecraft was created to such a standard that it outlived its original design life and was repurposed for use as NEOWISE. This, of course, only represents portions of what Ball Aerospace and Ball Corporation does.

What Does Ball Aerospace Do?

Ball Aerospace, outside of the direct designing and building spacecraft seen in NASA's SPHEREx, provides space solutions, accurate weather forecasts, and delivers valuable data and intelligence for clients. The Ball Corporation, as a whole, does significantly more than that. When not dealing specifically with space travel or exploration, Ball Corporation is more focused on creating and innovating sustainable aluminum storage and packaging. These packing solutions apply to different categories and products, including but not limited to customers for beverage, personal care, and household products.

The company currently employs over 18,300 people through itself and its subsidiaries. In 2019, Ball Corporation earned an incredible $11.5 billion in net sales. The Ball Corporation and Ball Aerospace have created strong, highly effective products that will help progress so much of the current space research and, hopefully, the SPHEREx Project being led by NASA. As a result, there is serious anticipation not only for the SPHEREx Project, but also for Ball Aerospace and their spacecraft creations.

Final Conclusions

The SPHEREx Project looks primed to help advance humanity’s current knowledge of the elements that created the universe. Through the use of many different innovative technologies from a variety of companies, including Ball Aerospace, the project is positioned for discovery. Ball Aerospace’s collaboration to design and build spacecraft, provide telescopes, and integrate systems for the mission is a significant accomplishment. However, their work as one of the major companies to help NASA should help launch the globe into a new world of understanding.

About the Author

Headshot for author Thomas Price

Tom Price is a writer focusing on Entertainment and Sports Features. He has a degree from NYU in English with a minor in Creative Writing. He has been previously published for Washington Square News, Dignitas, CBR, and Numbers on the Boards.

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