STPSat-3 satellite

Ball Aerospace & Technologies has transferred the third US Air Force’s (USAF) STPSat-3 for launch to Wallops Flight Facility, which is located on Wallops Island, Virginia, US.

Representing the second spacecraft to have been built by Ball for the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Space Test Program, the Standard Interface Vehicle (STP-SIV) programme, the satellite is scheduled to be launched aboard a Minotaur I rocket in November 2013.

The launch, along with numerous CubeSats, forms part of USAF’s operationally responsive space (ORS)-3 enabler mission, which involves demonstration, evaluation and verification of rapid response spacecraft technologies to decrease launch timelines and lower mission costs.

Ball Aerospace president Rob Strain said the STPSat-3 will demonstrate the robust SIV spacecraft by carrying five payloads and a de-orbit module.

Strain said, ”Ball’s first SIV satellite, STPSat-2, launched in November 2010 and has exceeded its mission requirements and continues to operate three onboard experiments.

”The SIV is now part of the Ball Configurable Platform cost-effective product line that can be appropriately scaled from initial technology development missions like STPSat-3, to fully operational systems such as NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System.”

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By GlobalData
"The STPSat-3 will demonstrate the robust SIV spacecraft by carrying five payloads and a de-orbit module."

Manufactured in 47 days using the company’s flight-proven common spacecraft bus platform, STPSat-3 represents the primary satellite for the ORS-3 mission, and features five standard payload interfaces to support a range of experimental and risk reduction payloads at various low-earth orbits.

The payloads include integrated miniaturised electrostatic analyser reflight (iMESA-R), a USAF Academy mission designed to measure plasma densities and energies, joint component research (J-CORE), strip sensor unit (SSU), small wind and temperature spectrometer (SWATS) and TSI calibration transfer experiment (TCTE).

STPSat-2, the first satellite in the STP-SIV programme, was launched aboard a Minotaur IV rocket from the Kodiak Launch Complex, Alaska, US, in November 2010.

Image: The STPSat-3 has been transferred for launch to Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, US. Photo: © 2013 Ball Aerospace.

Defence Technology