US: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) released its latest Broad Agency Announcement (DARPA-BAA-12-35) for the programme, Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements (SeeMe). Bidders will be competing for approximately USD 45 million to be distributed via multiple awards.
The goal of this programme is to provide needed on-demand imagery directly to the warfighter in the field from a very-low-cost satellite constellation in a timely manner. Such a programme will fill current gaps in critical information prior to, during and after military engagements.
There are obvious significant advantages in closing this information gap with persistent coverage and on-demand delivery in terms of driving up mission success probability and reducing personnel risk.
If successful, the SeeMe programme will provide reliable and persistent information by using small, short-lived, very-low-cost satellites at very low altitudes, integrated into existing communications systems and handheld platforms.
The challenge here is to provide full constellation coverage over a selected latitude band at a cost that is only a fraction of current airborne costs. This roughly translates into a satellite unit cost of no more than USD 500,000, exclusive of launch and ground operations.
Today, the warfighter in the field is unable to obtain on-demand satellite imagery in a timely manner due to unavailability of satellite over-flight opportunities, lack of information distribution channels, prioritization conflicts, and/or classification restrictions. The BAA pointed out: “At the same time, insurgents that operate against US warfighters worldwide have the ability to utilize commercial imagery services to obtain information, effectively providing them with an asymmetric advantage.”
Source: Space Daily