The US Air Force has awarded a $13.4m contract to Ball Aerospace and Technologies to procure long-lead hardware for a second Space Test Program Standard Interface Vehicle (STP-SIV) spacecraft.

The contract is a follow-on to a April 2006 contract for the first STP-SIV vehicle, which included a provision for up to six vehicle orders for the Air Force Space Development and Test Wing’s Space Development Group at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

The company will be responsible for payload integration, space vehicle environmental testing and launch and mission support.

To support a variety of experimental payloads and launch vehicles, Ball Aerospace has developed a 120kg standard vehicle that can fly in a wide range of lunar exploration orbits.

The first STP-SIV space vehicle has completed the initial phase of system environmental testing as well as electromagnetic interference and compatibility and is ready to undergo vibration and thermal vacuum testing.

The first STP-SIV spacecraft is expected to be launched in the first quarter of 2010.