by Michael Kleiman
3/31/2010 - KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) – Members of the Tactical Satellite-3 program team here and at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., answered the call when U.S. Southern Command officials requested imaging collection to assist with rebuilding and humanitarian relief efforts after an earthquake struck Haiti and Chile.
Employing the spacecraft’s primary payload, the Advanced Responsive Tactically-Effective Military Imaging Spectrometer project, has provided more than 30 data collects to the Miami-based unified combatant command staff.
The command staff is responsible for U.S. military operations in the Caribbean, as well as in Central and South America.
“When SOUTHCOM asked us to accomplish data collects using ARTEMIS to support rescue and recovery operations in Haiti and Chile, their request offered a unique opportunity to demonstrate the experimental sensor’s spectroscopic imaging capability,” said Dr. Thomas Cooley, the TacSat-3 program manager. “With the validation of more than 1,600 hyperspectral image collects since the satellite’s launch in May 2009, ARTEMIS has achieved, and in many ways, exceeded performance expectations.”
Managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate staff, TacSat-3 has less than two months left in its yearlong experimental mission. During the remaining days and weeks, project personnel will focus on conducting and evaluating final trials with ARTEMIS and another spacecraft payload, the Satellite Communication Package.
“During the past 10 months, things have gone very well,” Doctor Cooley said. “In the final two months of TacSat-3′s mission, we plan to expand the scope of ARTEMIS’ applications. The other two payloads, the SCP and the Space Avionics Experiment, have also met performance goals. For the former, the program team is still working with the Office of Naval Research on SCP-derived data, and for the latter, the majority of the testing and validation of the SAE’s plug-and-play technology occurred early in the satellite’s flight.”
Upon completion of the experimental mission in May, the spacecraft’s future has yet to be determined. The program team is working with officials from Air Force Space Command and other Department of Defense agencies to ensure a smooth transition.
“TacSat-3 has been a very successful mission. We have accomplished our objectives and have proven through numerous demonstrations with our project partners the potential utility of Imaging Spectroscopy to provide new tools and products for the men and women in our armed forces,” Doctor Cooley said. “We continue to discover new applications of ARTEMIS and hope that our experimental data is able to aid USSOUTHCOM as they support earthquake relief efforts. The responsive space concept is one step closer to reality due to the achievements of this ground-breaking demonstration.”
Note: the TacSat-3 is an $80M project operated out of Kirtland AFB, NM.