Chipping in From Above

The Air Force’s experimental TacSat-3 imagery satellite has been supporting US Southern Command’s humanitarian relief efforts in Chile and Haiti after powerful earthquakes struck both nations on separate occasions this year. The advanced responsive tactically effective military imaging spectrometer (ARTEMIS), the satellite’s primary payload, has already provided more than 30 sets of data to support the relief activities, according to Air Force Research Lab officials. Placed into orbit last May, TacSat-3 has less than two months in its year-long on-orbit assessment. So far, “things have gone very well” and ARTEMIS “has achieved, and in many ways, exceeded performance expectations,” said Thomas Cooley, TacSat-3 program manager. The satellite’s communication package and avionics experiment, “have also met performance goals,” said Cooley. The Air Force is still mulling what to do with TacSat-3 once the assessment concludes, including possibly transitioning it to residual operating status. (Kirtland report by Michael Kleiman)