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


Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:


  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles


Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:


  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles

Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

XCalibur5090 | Dual Virtex-7 Based Digital Signal Processing 6U LRM FPGA with Quad 2500 MSPS DAC and 3200 MSPS ADC

The XCalibur5090 is a high-performance, reconfigurable, conduction-cooled 6U LRM module based on ...

Optical Switches

Multiport (N x M) Optical Switches from large core, multimode and Plastic Optical Fiber (POF) for...

XPedite7574 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U VPX-REDI Module

The XPedite7574 is a high-performance, 3U VPX-REDI, single board computer based on the 5th genera...

XCalibur1645 | Freescale Eight-Core P4080 Processor-Based Conduction-Cooled 6U VPX Module

The XCalibur1645 is a high-performance, 6U VPX, single board computer supporting Freescale QorIQ ...

EP121CL-LO

Widely used for applications in the aerospace, electronic and OEM industries, Master Bond EP121CL...

PowerDNR-MIL Rack

12- slot, Military style I/O rack with Military/Rugged 38999 connectivity, 100% COTS solution, su...

PowerDNA-PPC5 Cube

5-layer, 100Base-T I/O, Data Acquisition and Control Cube with PowerPC CPU and SD slot. Has slots...

DNA-1553-553

Dual Channel MIL-STD-1553 interface board for Cube I/O chassis with 2 independent, dual redundant...

PowerDNR RACKtangle®

3U Gigabit Ethernet Data Acquisition and control rack United Electronic Industries allows the ins...

PowerDNR HalfRACK

Half-width 3U Gigabit Ethernet Data Acquisition and control chassis allows the installation of up...

Related Companies

TEN TECH LLC

Is a mechanical engineering consulting company headquartered in Los Angeles, CA with operations in Billerica, MA, pro...

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions

About Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions (CWDS) is a long established techno...

Southwest Antennas

Southwest Antennas designs and manufactures high-performance RF & Microwave antennas and accessories designed for tod...

ISVI Corp

ISVI designs, produces and sells machine-vision camera systems combining high-speed and high-resolution sensors with ...

Premier Polymers

Provides seamless epoxy flooring and industrial resinous coatings

CORWIL Technology Corp

CORWIL Technology, the premier US based, IC assembly and test services subcontractor, offering full back-end assembly...

Thermotron Industries

Thermotron is a manufactures environmental test chambers, vibration test systems, HALT/HASS equipment, and functional...

IndustryARC

IndustryARC primarily focuses on Cutting Edge Technologies and Newer Applications of the Market. Our Custom Research ...

United Electronic Industries Inc

UEI is a leader in the PC/Ethernet data acquisition and control, Data Logger/Recorder and Programmable Automation Con...

RPMC Lasers Inc

Offers 1500 DPSS lasers, lamp lasers, fiber lasers and diode lasers. Provides, ultrafast, picosecond, nanosecond, cw ...

Webcasts

Harsh Environment Protection for Advanced Electronics and Components

This webinar will offer an opportunity to learn more about ultra-thin Parylene conformal coatings – how they are applied, applications they protect today, and the properties and benefits they offer, includin...

New Design Tools That Help You Develop Radar That Sees the Un-seeable and Detects the Undetectable

Xilinx EW/ISR System Architect, Luke Miller, has new tricks and he’s going to tell you all about them in a new Xilinx Webinar—for free. His Webinar will cover new ways to implement Radar functions including ...
Sponsored by:

Press Releases

CURTISS-WRIGHT AWARDED CONTRACT BY SIERRA NEVADA CORPORATION

Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division has received a contract from Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) to supply its small form factor ...

Innovative Integration Announces the FMC-Servo

Camarillo, CA June 19, 2015, Innovative Integration, a trusted supplier of signal processing and data acquisition hardware and software solutions, today announced the FMC-S...

METADATA SUPPORT ENHANCES INDUSTRY-LEADING HD VIDEO MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FROM CURTISS-WRIGHT

Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division has further enhanced its innovative VRD1 high definition (HD) video management system (VMS) w...

All Access Sponsors


Mil & Aero Magazine

August 2015
Volume 26, Issue 8
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

Cyber Security

Monthly newsletter covering cyber warfare, cyber security, information warfare, and information security technologies, products, contracts, and procurement opportunities
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