NASA has selected Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, CO, to build two spacecraft for a unique, formation- flying mission. The Space Technology 3 mission will use separate spacecraft to create a virtual large telescope looking out to the Milky Way galaxy and beyond, much larger than any instrument that could be carried by one satellite alone.

Scheduled to launch in early 2005, this interferometry mission is part of NASA's New Millennium Program, which tests new technologies so that they may be confidently used on science missions of the 21st century.

The contract to Ball Aerospace is valued at approximately $50 million. The two spacecraft will launch together into an orbit around the Sun. After launch, the spacecraft will undergo calibration tests before separating to conduct formation flying and interferometry experiments. The mission is expected to last six months.

For JPL, Ball Aerospace will develop and build the spacecraft and will integrate and test the completed systems. Spacecraft operations will be controlled from facilities at the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. is a subsidiary of Ball Corp.

JPL, which manages the New Millennium Program, is developing the mission's interferometer and formation flying sensor technologies. Space Technology 3 is managed for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC, by JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology.

News Media Contact