US Army deploys Kestrel Eye microsatellite
The US Army’s Kestrel Eye microsatellite prototype was deployed into space from the International Space Station (ISS) and activated on 24 October.
The microsatellite was launched as part of an ISS cargo resupply mission in August. Now deployed at a safe distance from ISS, the satellite will power up automatically and begin receiving signals from the ground station.
The Kestrel Eye is a small, low-cost, visible-imagery satellite designed to provide rapid situational awareness directly to army brigade combat teams by providing satellite imagery without the need for conventional, continental US-based relays. It is intended to be tactically responsive, with the ability to task and receive data during an overhead pass and provide a measure of satellite persistence overhead that can provide situational awareness and images rapidly to the soldier.
The army will use the satellite to investigate the possibility of giving commanders in the field the ability to control the entire imagery process from end-to-end, from the tasking of the satellite all the way through to the dissemination of the data to the soldiers who need it.
The deployment will be carried out over four stages. The first phase is a technical checkout to verify satellite functionality and make any adjustments; while the second is a technical demonstration of the satellite to demonstrate its full capability.
The third phase is an operational demonstration that will see a limited military utility assessment conducted by the independent assessor, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. This will be followed by residual operations where Kestrel Eye will participate in a series of army exercises.
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