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Ball Aerospace and Aerojet Rocketdyne Achieve Expanded Operational Range for Green Propellant Infusion Mission

Critical engine technology validates green propellant advantages over hydrazine

BOULDER, Colo., March 31, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and Aerojet Rocketdyne exceeded the technical range objective for the main thruster that will fly aboard the Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM).  This mission will demonstrate in a space environment, a "green" propellant known as AF-M315E, to replace the highly toxic hydrazine and complex bi-propellant systems in-use today.

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"This is an exciting program that will enhance both future spacecraft performance and U.S. competitiveness," said Jim Oschmann, Ball Aerospace Civil Space and Technologies vice president and general manager.  "The new propellant technology, once demonstrated on GPIM, will raise both the 22 Newton and 1 Newton class AF-M315E thruster readiness for flight, enabling safer and less costly space missions with significant enhanced in-space propulsion performance." 

The GPIM team demonstrated in a lab environment that the 22 Newton-class thruster running AF-M135E propellant had an enhanced operation range over traditional hydrazine used in spacecraft.  The test continuously demonstrated that the thruster had enough force to go as high as 27 Newtons and scale down to 4 Newtons.  The 22 Newton thruster will fire simultaneously along with four smaller 1N thrusters aboard the GPIM satellite to initiate orbit inclination changes and altitude changes.

"The expanded operational range exemplifies the performance benefits provided by the AF-M315E, which enable a broad range of applications from low-Earth orbit to deep space and facilitate infusion across the marketplace," added Roger Myers, executive director of Electric Propulsion and Integrated Systems at Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Ball is leading an industry and government team to develop and fly the GPIM mission.  The new AF-M315E propellant, which is a Hydroxyl Ammonium Nitrate fuel/oxidizer blend, was developed by U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base.  Aerojet Rocketdyne has developed the thruster and catalyst technologies which enable practical applications for space missions.  The GPIM project is a Technology Demonstration Mission managed by the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA.

As the prime contractor and principal investigator, Ball collaborates with a team of co-investigators from Aerojet Rocketdyne, NASA Glenn Research Center, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA Kennedy Space Center and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base, with additional mission support from the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Kirkland Air Force Base.

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

Ball Corporation (NYSE: BLL) supplies innovative, sustainable packaging solutions for beverage, food and household products customers, as well as aerospace and other technologies and services primarily for the U.S. government. Ball Corporation and its subsidiaries employ 14,500 people worldwide and reported 2013 sales of $8.5 billion. For more information, visit, or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Forward-Looking Statements
This release contains "forward-looking" statements concerning future events and financial performance. Words such as "expects," "anticipates," "estimates" and similar expressions 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 in our Form 10-K, which are available on our website and at Factors that might affect: a) our packaging segments include fluctuation in product demand; availability and cost of raw materials; competitive packaging, pricing and substitution; changes in climate and weather; crop yields; competitive activity; failure to achieve productivity improvements or 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 or tax rates; b) our aerospace segment include funding, authorization, availability and returns of government and commercial contracts; and delays, extensions and technical uncertainties affecting segment contracts; c) the company as a whole include those listed plus: changes in senior management; successful or unsuccessful acquisitions and divestitures; 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; technological developments and innovations; litigation; strikes; labor cost changes; rates of return on assets of the company's defined benefit retirement plans; pension changes; uncertainties surrounding the U.S. government budget, sequestration and debt limit; reduced cash flow; ability to achieve cost-out initiatives; interest rates affecting our debt.

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SOURCE Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.

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