WASHINGTON — Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems turned over control of the 12th Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) to its customer, NASA, the Seal Beach, California, company said in a Sept. 29 statement.

The satellite, known as TDRS-L prior to the handoff, launched Jan. 23 atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. The spacecraft is the second of three third-generation TDRS satellites Boeing is building under a fixed-price contract signed in 2007.

Boeing’s base contract was for TDRS-K and TDRS-L, with an option for TDRS-M and TDRS-N. The total value of the contract at the time of the award, including both options, was about $1.2 billion. NASA in 2011 picked up the TDRS-M option for $289 million, but passed on the TDRS-N option.

“TDRS-M has completed integration of its payload and bus modules, and is in final preparation for thermal vacuum testing,” Boeing spokeswoman Kimberly Krantz wrote in an Oct. 2 email. “It is on track to finish in Q3 2015.”

TDRS-M will be placed in storage in 2015 and could launch as soon as 2016. NASA has not set a launch date.

The eight-satellite, geosynchronous TDRS constellation, which has been operating for more than 30 years, helps NASA communicate with spacecraft in low Earth orbit, including the international space station.

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Dan Leone is a SpaceNews staff writer, covering NASA, NOAA and a growing number of entrepreneurial space companies. He earned a bachelor’s degree in public communications from the American University in Washington.