Boulder, Colo.-based Ball Aerospace & Space Technologies said July 16 that the STPSat-3 spacecraft it built for the U.S. Air Force will now host five payloads — one more than originally planned — plus a deorbit module when it launches from Wallops Island, Va., in 2013 aboard a Minotaur 1 rocket.

Based on the Ball Configurable Platform 100 standard interface bus, STPSat-3 was built in 47 days for the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s Space Development and Test Directorate.

Ball President and Chief Executive David Taylor said STPSat-3 demonstrated the “outstanding agility” of its standard interface design by accommodating an additional payload and a deorbit module after the spacecraft was completed.

The deorbit module, built by Boulder-based MMA Design LLC, will be used to deorbit the satellite in less than 25 years.

Ball spokeswoman Roz Brown said the fifth payload is the Total Solar Irradiance Calibration Transfer Experiment. The joint NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration mission is designed to collect high-accuracy, high-precision measurements to monitor changes in solar irradiance at the top of the Earth’s atmosphere.

The other four payloads for STPSat-3 are:

  • Integrated Miniaturized Electrostatic Analyzer Reflight, a U.S. Air Force Academy mission designed to measure plasma densities and energies.
  • Joint Component Research, a space phenomenology mission sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Army Space and Missile Defense Command.
  • Strip Sensor Unit, an AFRL directed-energy experiment to provide risk reduction through on-orbit testing and operation of a sensor assembly.
  • Small Wind and Temperature Spectrometer, a Naval Research Laboratory mission to provide in-situ measurements of the neutral and plasma environment to characterize the Earth’s ionosphere and thermosphere.

Warren Ferster is the Editor-in-Chief of SpaceNews and is responsible for all the news and editorial coverage in the weekly newspaper, the Web site and variety of specialty publications such as show dailies. He manages a staff of seven reporters...