SeeMe concept (via DARPA)
In the military, it’s usually the SOF (Special Operations Forces) community are that get all the toys. For example, new body armor designs, improved weapons platforms and the latest electronic equipment are usually given to ‘Tier 1’ (the term is actually from the DOD’s budget rather than elite soldiers) operators. However, DARPA is seeking to develop and supply the average military units (as well as SOF) with the ability to recon over the horizon with cheap/disposable real-time satellite imagery.
Called ‘SeeMe’, DARPA’s project aims to use cheap already in-orbit satellites (about a dozen or so) that can be accessed with the push of a button and give the soldiers an area image within 90 minutes. DARPA is trying to combine the low-cost manufacturing processes from the cell-phone industry, propulsion systems designed by the auto-racing community, and valve tech from the medical field to get the SeeMe project off the ground (so to speak). The satellites are expected to cost around $500,000 US (which is pretty cheap as far as satellites go) and will remain in orbit anywhere from 60 to 90 day’s at which point the will re-enter the earth’s atmosphere and burn up on re-entry.
DARPA plans to use their ALASA (Airborne Launch Assist Space Access) platform to send these ‘prying eyes’ into space over conventional rocket deployment since the payload is expected to be 100Lbs or under. The company is hosting a get-together (called Proposers’ Day) on March 27 of this year to hear prospective proposals from interested parties interested in the SeeMe project. If you have an idea on how to make this happen, have a go at SeeMe. Maybe I will 'SeeYou' there!