BOULDER - A $26 million satellite made by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. was launched Tuesday night from Wallops Island, Virginia.

The STPSat-3 satellite is carrying five research instruments that will collect space data for five government science projects, according to a Ball Aerospace press statement.

One of the instruments is a $5 million sensor built by workers at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, or LASP, at the University of Colorado-Boulder, to monitor changes in solar irradiance at the top of Earth's atmosphere.

LASP was contracted to build the instrument by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a federal lab with a significant presence in Boulder, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA. The $5 million contract includes testing and operations, according to a press release from CU-Boulder. Undergraduate students and professionals will operate and monitor the instrument from LASP's mission operations center located on the CU-Boulder East Campus near the southwest corner of Foothills Parkway and Arapahoe Road.

The other four research instruments are:

- A U.S. Air Force Academy instrument to measure plasma densities and energies;

- An Air Force Research Laboratory instrument to measure space phenomena;

- An Air Force Research Laboratory instrument to collect data in a directed energy experiment;

- A Naval Research Laboratory wind and temperature data collection instrument.

The STPSat-3 satellite was built in 47 days as part of a government contract with Ball Aerospace announced in 2006. The contract called for Ball Aerospace to build as many as six similar satellites. The idea is to standardize some aspects of the similar satellites, speed up building time and lower some costs.

Workers at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center's Space Development and Test Directorate manage the satellite from an office at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Ball Aerospace develops and manufactures spacecraft and instruments for government and commercial applications. It is a division of Ball Corp. in Broomfield (NYSE: BLL), a packaging company.