US Army successfully launches Kestrel Eye electro-optical satellite


The US Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) / Army Forces Strategic Command has announced the successful launch of the Kestrel Eye electro-optical micro satellite to the International Space Station (ISS).

The satellite was launched as a payload aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 as part of the ISS cargo resupply mission, SpaceX CRS-12.

Falcon 9 is SpaceX's two-stage rocket designed to transport satellites and their Dragon spacecraft into orbit, the US Army stated.

The 12th resupply mission was carried out from Launch Complex 39A at Nasa's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on 14 August.

SMDC Tech Center director Tom Webber said: "Once Kestrel Eye gets to the ISS we will have to wait for our turn to be deployed by the astronauts.

"We are excited that there will be a retired army astronaut on the ISS during this time. Once deployed from the ISS, we will power up the spacecraft and conduct a series of functional checks to ensure (Kestrel Eye) is performing as expected."

"Once Kestrel Eye gets to the ISS we will have to wait for our turn to be deployed by the astronauts."

Weighing close to 50kg, the Kestrel Eye visible-imagery satellite technology demonstrator will provide images rapidly to ground soldiers.

According to a statement posted on Nasa’s website, the satellite has been designed to support future missions in a low-Earth orbit, as well as provide Earth imagery in support of time-sensitive operations, such as tracking severe weather and detecting natural disasters.

The SMDC aims to enhance space and missile defence capabilities for the army in support of US Strategic Command and geographic combatant command missions.

Since 2010, SMDC has launched 11 nanosatellites in order to support unattended ground sensors applications, as well as provide limited text and data transfers.


Image: SpaceX launched its 12th resupply mission to the International Space Station from Nasa's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo: courtesy of NASA Television.