The US Air Force’s tactical satellite-3 (TacSat-3) has successfully completed its first month of operations and has exceeded expectations.

TacSat-3 programme manager Thomas Cooley said that the spacecraft has set a superior benchmark for the remaining 11 months of the mission.

The satellite will provide real-time imagery within ten minutes of collection in theatre. It will also assist warfighters with plug-and-play avionics to stay ahead of the enemy.

TacSat-3’s advanced responsive tactically effective military imaging spectrometer (ARTEMIS) has been sending high-resolution images to ground stations.

Within 30-days of operation, it completed its on-orbit checkout.

The ARTEMIS operations were initiated in the second week after the launch and the spacecraft’s autonomous software has also been validated.

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The 880lb satellite has proved its tactical mode by collecting and processing hyperspectral imagery, downloading a tactical product within a single, ten-minute pass and validating the performance of the secondary payloads.

The spacecraft is still being tactically commanded by project personnel and refined to react quickly to the evolving battlespace environment.

The TacSat-3, launched on 19 May 2009 on a low orbit, is a joint effort by the Air Force Research Laboratory, Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Air Force Space and Missile Systems, the Department of Defense and the Office of Naval Research.