DARPA seeks to develop small reconnaissance satellites that are cheaper to build than UAVs

ARLINGTON, Va.-Scientists at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., want to make relevant battlefield imagery available to front-line warfighters in real time using constellations of temporary and inexpensive orbiting satellites that are launched quickly enough to support fast-moving military operations.

The DARPA Tactical Technology Office released a broad-agency announcement (DARPA-BAA-12-35) in May for the Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements (SeeMe) program to provide on-demand imagery to the lowest-echelon warfighter in the field from small satellites.

The SeeMe satellites would help clear away the fog of war by filling gaps in battlefield situational awareness before, during, and after military engagements, DARPA officials say. Companies interested in participating have until 29 June 2012 to submit proposals.

The SeeMe program would provide reliable persistent-surveillance data to front-line forces using small, short-lived, very-low-cost satellites operating at low altitudes that are networked to fielded military communications systems and handheld devices. Satellites should cost no more than $500,000 each, not counting launch and ground-support operations.

DARPA experts say they expect to award several initial SeeMe contracts, and the total cost of the program's first phase will be about $45 million.

The short-duration satellite constellations would compensate for today's weaknesses in gathering situational-awareness data that today does not provide the lowest-echelon warfighters with on-demand satellite imagery due to the unavailability of satellite overflight opportunities, lack of information distribution channels, priority conflicts, and classification restrictions.

At the same time, terrorists and other enemy forces have access to commercial imagery information that gives them an advantage. The SeeMe program would give small U.S. squads and fire-teams reliable information in remote and beyond-line-of-sight conditions, officials say.

Rather than using expensive high-orbit reconnaissance satellites that are tasked remotely and their products analyzed through a centralized organization, SeeMe short-lived, low-cost satellites would provide large global coverage at a lower cost than a set of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) flying simultaneously over several theaters per day.

DARPA is trying to develop small, inexpensive, and quickly launchable reconnaissance satellites to bring real-time situational awareness data to troops at the front.
DARPA is trying to develop small, inexpensive, and quickly launchable reconnaissance satellites to bring real-time situational awareness data to troops at the front.

SeeMe satellites would be designed based on cost, rather than performance, and would seek to revolutionize the existing satellite-development model to cut costs to a fraction of manned or unmanned aircraft, primarily using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components. SeeMe satellites also would use non-traditional RF and optical apertures and imagery processing techniques, as well as innovative manufacturing and rapid launch systems to match the speed of military operations.

The SeeMe program is coordinating with the DARPA Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program to drive down launch costs. The combined SeeMe and ALASA programs will culminate in an on-orbit demonstration in 2014 or 2015 of a constellation of 24 SeeMe satellites operating in low orbits between 125 and 185 miles above the Earth.

The program seeks to deliver a constellation of small reconnaissance satellites within 90 days order at a cost of about $12 million-a fraction of the cost of an existing UAV. SeeMe satellites would provide persistent coverage of any point on the Earth with no coverage gaps greater than 90 minutes, and would last for at least 45 days.

The preliminary phase is to last 14 months, while the second phase of the program would last 15 months and demonstrate a production run of at least six satellites. The third phase would last a year and produce a constellation of 24.

Those interested should send proposals in writing and on CD-ROM by 29 June 2012 to DARPA/TTO Attn: DARPA-BAA-12-35 30, 675 North Randolph St., Arlington, Va. 22203-2114.

More information is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/ODA/DARPA/CMO/DARPA-BAA-12-35/listing.html.

More Military & Aerospace Electronics Current Issue Articles
More Military & Aerospace Electronics Archives Issue Articles


Easily post a comment below using your Linkedin, Twitter, Google or Facebook account.


Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

VPX3-453 3U VPX Virtex-6/8640D Digital Signal Processor

The Curtiss-Wright VPX3-453 is a high performance 3U VPX DSP and FPGA processor card that combine...

Electronic Warfare VPX Products

The VPX product line includes three products: Modular Quad IF Up and Down Converter, Modular Dire...

Interpoint™ MTR Series™ 50 Volt

The MTR Series™ MTR 50, 28 volt dc-dc converter offers up to 30 watts of output power from single...

Interpoint™ MFP Series™ Down-Leaded Point of Load

The new down-leaded version of its Interpoint™ MFP Series Point of Load (POL) converters are avai...

HS-5104AEH Radiation Hardened, Low Noise Quad Operational Amplifiers

The HS-5104ARH, HS-5104AEH are radiation hardened, monolithic quad operational amplifiers that pr...

XVR16 6U 4th Generation Intel Core i7 Based Rugged VME Single Board Computer

The XVR16 Rugged 6U VME Single Board Computer (SBC) from GE Intelligent Platforms features the hi...

IBX400 6U OpenVPX InfiniBand® Switch Fabric Module

The IBX400 is the world's first, fully rugged, 6U OpenVPX InfiniBand® switch fabric module (SFM) ...

PMC-E2001 Audio/Acoustic Waveform Generating PMC Card

PMC-E2001 Delta-sigma PMC features 16-bit resolution with 8 Analog Outputs and 4 Analog Inputs wi...

CHAMP-FX4 6U OpenVPX Virtex-7 FPGA Processor Card

The CHAMP-FX4 is the flagship 6U product in Curtiss-Wright Controls Defense Solutions’ family of ...

SBC326 - 3U OpenVPX 4th Generation Intel Core i7 based Single Board Computer

The SBC326 Rugged Single Board Computer (SBC) from GE Intelligent Platforms features the high per...

Related Companies

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions

About Curtiss-Wright Controls Defense Solutions Curtiss-Wright Controls Defense Solutions (CWCDS) is a long establish...

Crane Aerospace & Electronics

When failure is NOT an option...rely on Crane Aerospace & Electronics. We supply high-density, high-reliability c...

Intersil Corp

Intersil is leveraging a deep portfolio of intellectual property, a history of design and process innovation and a sy...

Symmetricom Inc

A leading source of highly precise timekeeping technologies, instruments and solutions. Provides timekeeping in GPS s...

GE Intelligent Platforms

Provides embedded computing solutions. Products include single-board computers, networking products, avionics interfa...

ASC Signal Corp

Manufactures satellite earth station, air traffic control radar antenna and high frequency antenna products for broad...

Aeroflex Metelics Hi-Rel Components

Manufactures high reliability semiconductors for the military, defense, satellite and aerospace industries as well as...

Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp

Offers antennas, cryogenics, electronic supplies, electro-optic systems and equipment, GPS equipment, laser communica...

bavAIRia eV

The bavAIRia e.V. association is responsible for cluster management of aerospace and satellite navigation.

MOOG

Designs, manufactures and integrates precision motion control products and systems. Moog's high-performance systems c...
Wire News provided by   

social activity

Webcasts

Meeting the Gen3 backplane challenge with OpenVPX and COTS

Tight Pentagon budgets mean military systems must stay in the field for longer than ever before. This doesn't mean obsolete technology, however. Today's military electronics are being upgraded constantly, an...
Sponsored by:

Digital signal processing for signals intelligence and electronic warfare

Military & Aerospace Electronics presents an expert Webcast on the design considerations for blending general-purposes processors (GPUs), general-purpose graphics processors (GPGPUs), field-programmable ...
Sponsored by:

Design Strategy Considerations for DO-178C Certified Multi-core Systems

Join Wind River to learn how system architecture and design choices can minimize your DO-178C certification challenges.

Sponsored by:

All Access Sponsors

View the 2014 Buyer's Guide Now!


Mil & Aero Magazine

October 2014
Volume 25, Issue 10
file

Download Our Apps



iPhone

iPad

Android

Follow Us On...



Newsletters

Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information
SUBSCRIBE

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers
SUBSCRIBE

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.
SUBSCRIBE

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications
SUBSCRIBE

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles
SUBSCRIBE