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C4iSR: Air

US Army’s Kestrel Eye micro satellite deploys in space

26 October 2017
An artist’s concept shows Kestrel Eye Block I, intended to increase the responsiveness of space assets to ground warfighter needs. Source: Maryland Aeronautics

The US Army’s Kestrel Eye electro-optical (EO) micro satellite, which the service hopes can improve situational awareness for brigade combat teams, was deployed into space and activated on 24 October, Army Space and Missile Command announced on 25 October.

Kestrel Eye is, for now, a demonstration to explore the “military utility of providing rapid situational awareness directly to army brigade combat teams … by providing satellite imagery without the need for conventional, continental US-based relays”, the command said.

The army’s demonstration will next move through four phases.

First it will run a technical checkout “to verify satellite functionality and make any necessary adjustments”, then a “technical demonstration of the satellite to demonstrate full capability”, the army said.

Next it will undergo an operational demonstration with US Pacific Command, which has partnered with the Kestrel Eye project. This will include “a limited military utility assessment” to be conducted by the US Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command as an independent assessor.

A fourth phase will involve “residual operations” in which Kestrel Eye will participate in a series of army exercises, the service added.

The micro satellite was launched on 14 August to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX’s Dragon resupply vehicle.

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