Tactically Speaking

The Air Force anticipates the launch of TacSat-3, the next in a series of tiny experimental satellites being procured by the Pentagon, in June. Government Executive reports that mini spacecraft will carry a hyperspectral imager, a sensor capable of identifying camouflaged or concealed objects otherwise difficult to discern with traditional cameras, citing USAF officials. It will also have an onboard computer to process imagery and send them to analysts on the ground. Like the other TacSats in the series, TacSat-3 is designed to be operationally responsive to the needs of a commander in the field. The satellite also is built upon a modular architecture that is the forerunner of the plug-‘n’-play satellite systems that the Department of Defense is pursuing, the article says. The cost to develop and launch the TacSat-3 is $75 million, still a bargain by Pentagon space standards, it notes. TacSat-2 was launched in December 2006. TacSat-1, developed by the Naval Research Lab, is still waiting for a launch vehicle.