The US military will soon be using mini-satellites called CubeSats, which can be quickly and inexpensively built and operated, to keep tabs on terrorists and other suspects.
"Orbital assets can provide persistent, worldwide coverage -- anywhere, anytime," Discovery News quoted Wes Ticer, spokesman with the US Special Operations Command at Florida's MacDill Air Force Base, as saying.
The miniature satellites, which are small enough to fit in the palm of the hand, were first launched in December, and data from that debut run is still being analyzed by U.S. Special Operations Command.
They were launched aboard the Space Exploration Technologies' Falcon 9 rocket, the same vessel that carried the company's first Dragon capsule into orbit.
"This effort was a proof-of-concept technology demonstration," Ticer wrote in an email.
Special Operations Command is evaluating CubeSat capabilities and considering using the satellites for future missions, he added.
Keeping an eye on terrorists from space has some distinct advantages over ground- and air-based systems. Satellites can operate around the world, including areas not accessible by aircraft, Ticer noted.