Moving Beyond Experimental

The Air Force is considering whether to transition its experimental Tactical Satellite 3 system to residual operating status upon completion of its on-orbit assessment in May, Gen. Robert Kehler, Air Force Space Command boss, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee Wednesday. TacSat-3 was placed into orbit in May 2009. It was designed to demonstrate the military utility of a small satellite that is taskable by a tactical user in the field to search and collect specific hyperspectral images. So far, the experiment appears to have gone well. “TacSat-3 provides a new capability for strategic and tactical reconnaissance from space and continues to successfully provide military utility as a technology and test asset,” said Gary Payton, space czar in the Air Force Secretariat, who appeared with Kehler before the panel. (Kehler prepared remarks) (Payton prepared remarks)