The U.S. Air Force Space Development and Test Directorate exercised a contract option with Seattle-based Spaceflight Inc. to launch the Army’s Kestrel Eye 1 tactical imaging satellite as a secondary payload on a Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Falcon 9 rocket lifting off in 2013.

The Air Force tapped Spaceflight Inc. in April to evaluate commercial launch options for Kestrel Eye 1 and STPSat-3, an Air Force Space Test Program satellite since manifested on an Orbital Sciences Corp. Minotaur 1 rocket launching from Wallops Island, Va., next year.

Spaceflight Inc. said in an Aug. 8 press release announcing the Kestrel Eye 1 deal that the 10-kilogram nanosatellite will launch aboard a secondary payload deployment system it developed with sister company Andrews Space.

Kestrel Eye 1 was built by Maryland Aerospace of Crofton, Md., and is equipped with an electro-optical imaging system capable of detecting objects as small as 1.5 meters in diameter.



U.S. Army Seeks To Enlist Swarms of Tiny Satellites