The arrival of the Raytheon hyper-spectral sensor, known as ARTEMIS, at the Air Force Research Laboratory in New Mexico is the latest step toward its deployment aboard TacSat-3 late this year.
ARTEMIS (Advanced Responsive Tactically Effective Military Imaging Spectrometer) is a cornerstone of a U.S. program to develop small and relatively inexpensive "on-demand" satellites that can be launched on short notice and provide the Pentagon with a bird's-eye view of a specific trouble spot.
"The intent of the program is to help demonstrate the feasibility of the 'responsive-space' concept," Raytheon Vice President Brian Arnold said in a statement Monday. "Small, relatively inexpensive satellites would be launched on demand to meet real-time battlefield needs."
Raytheon's challenge in the project was to design and build the sensor within 15 months under a $15 million Air Force contract. The device consists of commercial off-the-shelf components and is designed to be stored at a central location until it is needed.
"Conceivably, a system could be mounted on a satellite, launched, and in orbit 200 miles above the earth within three to seven days of a request by a field commander," Arnold said.
Most current intelligence satellites are custom built for a specific launch over a much-longer time frame.