Today, the lowest echelon members of the U.S. military
deployed in remote overseas locations are unable to obtain on-demand satellite
imagery in a timely and persistent manner for pre-mission planning. This is due
to lack of satellite overflight opportunities, inability to receive direct
satellite downlinks at the tactical level and information flow restrictions.
DARPA’s SeeMe program aims to give mobile individual US warfighters
access to on-demand, space-based tactical information in remote and beyond-
line-of-sight conditions. If successful, SeeMe will provide small squads and
individual teams the ability to receive timely imagery of their specific
overseas location directly from a small satellite with the press of a button —
something that’s currently not possible from military or commercial
The program seeks to develop a constellation of small
“disposable” satellites, at a fraction of the cost of airborne systems, enabling
deployed warfighters overseas to hit ‘see me’ on existing handheld devices to
receive a satellite image of their precise location within 90 minutes. DARPA
plans SeeMe to be an adjunct to unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology, which
provides local and regional very-high resolution coverage but cannot cover
extended areas without frequent refueling. SeeMe aims to support warfighters in
multiple deployed overseas locations simultaneously with no logistics or
maintenance costs beyond the warfighters’ handheld devices.
constellation may consist of some two-dozen satellites, each lasting 60-90 days
in a very low-earth orbit before de-orbiting and completely burning up, leaving
no space debris and causing no re-entry hazard.
The program may leverage
Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, which is developing an
aircraft-based satellite launch platform for payloads on the order of 100 lbs.
ALASA seeks to provide low-cost, rapid launch of small satellites into any
required orbit, a capability not possible today from fixed ground launch
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