Raytheon“™s missile systems segment has been awarded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) with a $949,679 contract to take part in the space enabled effects for military engagements (SeeMe) program, reports John Keller for Military & Aerospace Electronics.
Raytheon engineers are tasked with creating satellites that would cost up to $500,000 each, not including launch and ground-support operations.
The goal of the program is SeeMe satellites which would provide updated battlefield data before, during, and after military actions, according to DARPA officials.
DARPA says the SeeMe program will utilize short-lived low-cost satellites to supply global surveillance cheaper than unmanned aerial vehicles. SeeMe satellites will supply consistent coverage of any location on Earth for at least 45 days.
According to the Keller article, the technology will help small U.S. fire-teams in remote locations receive reliable data.
SeeMe satellites are designed to be low cost and use commercial off-the-shelf parts.
Existing plans for SeeMe satellites include non-traditional RF, optical apertures and quick launch systems.
Satellites produced with SeeMe program technology will be given further funding under DARPA“™s airborne launch assist space access (ALASA) program. ALASA aspires to launch a 100-pound satellite for less than $1 million.
The culmination of both SeeMe and ALASA programs will be tested in 2014 or 2015 with an on-orbit demonstration. The test will involve a constellation of 24 SeeMe satellites launched in low orbits or between 125 and 185 miles above the Earth.