Small satellite constellation aims to give ground troops situational awareness at affordable price

TUCSON, Ariz. Defense Agency Research Projects Agency (DARPA) officials received the first Raytheon-built Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements (SeeMe) satellite.

DARPA's SeeMe program is designed to show that small satellites can be built affordably to give small squads timely tactical imagery directly from a small satellite. A future constellation of small satellites would deliver high-resolution images of precise locations of interest to the soldier's handheld device.

DARPA will integrate the Raytheon-built SeeMe satellite onto a Spaceflight Industries payload that will be launched into low-earth orbit on a SpaceX rocket later this year. Military users will have an opportunity to evaluate the satellite's performance during missions in early 2019.

"Ground troops can't always get immediate access to the larger, military and commercial satellites," says Dr. Thomas Bussing, Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems vice president. "These smaller, SeeMe satellites will be dedicated to soldiers, providing them with real-time images from space when they're needed most."

Eventually, a SeeMe constellation may comprise several types of small satellites, each lasting one to five years before de-orbiting and burning up, leaving no space debris and causing no re-entry hazard.