WASHINGTON — Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colo., announced Jan. 9 it has turned over control of the recently launched Space Test Program Satellite (STPSat)-3 to the U.S. Air Force.

The STPSat-3 is the latest in a series of spacecraft developed under a Defense Department program to field space capabilities quickly in response to emerging military needs.

The satellite was launched Nov. 19 as the main payload aboard a Minotaur 1 rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, a state-run facility located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. It included five payloads including sensors to measure plasma densities and solar irradiance.

Ball says it built STPSat-3 using the company’s Standard Interface Vehicle platform in 47 days at a cost of about $30 million. 

The satellite’s predecessor, STPSat-2, also built by Ball, has been on orbit for three years.

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Mike Gruss is a senior staff writer for SpaceNews. He joined the publication in January 2013 to cover military space. Previously, he worked as a reporter and columnist for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. and The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind. He...