Ball Aerospace Makes Progress on DARPA Video Tracking Program

Photo: darpa.mil

Recent reports have indicated that the U.S. military sees a day where there will be live video tracking missile launchers, which would require space telescopes hovering in geosynchronous orbit capable of capturing real-time footage of any place on Earth.

Space.com reported that Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. is working to make that vision a reality. The company also reported progress made on its work for the Membrane Optic Imager Real-Time Exploitation program under contract to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

DARPA’s idea for “real-time video over denied territory for missile launch detection and tracking from geosynchronous orbit,” would be met with a lightweight optics array with a flexible and space deployable membrane, said the report.

Ball Aerospace has recently completed a proof-of-concept review of such a system as part of a $37 million DARPA contract. The second phase of the project calls for Ball Aerospace to crate and test a 16-foot telescope.

“The use of membrane optics is an unprecedented approach to building large aperture telescopes,” said Ball Aerospace President & CEO, David L. Taylor. “With the technology being developed on the MOIRE program, Ball Aerospace is broadening its role in geosynchronous imaging.”

Contract defined measures indicated the desired telescope would be able to spot missile launcher vehicles moving at up to 60 mph on the ground.  This would require image resolution to see objects less than 10 feet long.

The next step, phase three, of the project includes launching a 32 foot telescope for flight tests in orbit, said the report.

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