DARPA wants swarms of “disposable” satellites to provide almost-live images on demand

We envision a constellation of small satellites …

DARPA, the United States’ defense technology research agency that’s created such notable projects as the Internet you’re using right this moment, is now looking for help in creating a swarm of “disposable” eyes in the sky. It is seeking technical assistance from a wide range of fields – from auto racing to optics – to create the means to provide on-demand satellite imagery for troops on the front lines.

The agency’s SeeMe program (Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements) aims to achieve what currently available military and commercial satellites cannot – near real-time satellite images of an area that could be used to plan military missions from the field.

“We envision a constellation of small satellites … that would allow deployed warfighters overseas to hit ‘see me’ on existing handheld devices and in less than 90 minutes receive a satellite image of their precise location,” said Dave Barnhart, DARPA program manager.

Barnhart says they’re hoping to be able to create the small satellites quickly and for a cost of around US$500,000 each, which is why the agency is reaching out to other industries for help.

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