When it comes to space, what goes up must be sturdy, safe and secure if it's to live very long. Satellites must survive the bone-rattling jostle and pressure of launch, and once they reach orbit, they've got to weather the vast temperature changes they experience with every sunrise and sunset. Their skins must be thick enough to survive pummeling by micro-debris, and they'd better have trusty gyroscopes to be able to change directions or keep their balance.
That's why space-bound objects undergo thorough testing at firms like Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., builders of satellite skeletons, gyroscopes, advanced instruments, and mason jars. (Well, that's a different division.)
Ball's research and development campus in Boulder, Colo., was the birthing grounds of lofty craft like the satellite that discovered the ozone hole; the Kepler planet-hunting telescope; most of the instruments on the Hubble Space Telescope; and the satellites that provide images for Google Earth.
PopSci recently paid a visit and got a glimpse of the arduous process of building and testing a spacecraft.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.