Optical sensors aboard space vehicles designated to perform seeker functions need to generate multispectral images in the mid-wave infrared (MWIR) and long-wave infrared (LWIR) spectral regions in order to investigate and classify man-made space objects, and to distinguish them relative to the interfering scene clutter. The spectral imager part of the sensor collects spectral signatures of the observed objects in order to extract information on surface emissivity and target temperature, both important parameters for object-discrimination algorithms. The Adaptive Spectral Imager described in this paper fulfills two functions simultaneously: one output produces instantaneous two-dimensional polychromatic imagery for object acquisition and tracking, while the other output produces multispectral images for object discrimination and classification. The spectral and temporal resolution of the data produced by the spectral imager are adjustable in real time, making it possible to achieve optimum tradeoff between different sensing functions to match dynamic monitoring requirements during a mission. The system has high optical collection efficiency, with output data rates limited only by the readout speed of the detector array. The instrument has no macro-scale moving parts, and can be built in a robust, small-volume and lightweight package, suitable for integration with space vehicles. The technology is also applicable to multispectral imaging applications in diverse areas such as surveillance, agriculture, process control, and biomedical imaging, and can be adapted for use in any spectral domain from the ultraviolet (UV) to the LWIR region.