The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is seeking industry input for its Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements program. Dubbed “SeeMe,” the newly announced initiative aims to give mobile individual US ground troops what they currently don’t have—access to on-demand, space-based tactical information in remote and beyond-line-of-sight conditions, according to an agency release. To make that possible, the agency seeks to develop a constellation of affordable, easily manufacturable, and disposable imagery satellites. “We envision a constellation of small satellites, at a fraction of the cost of airborne systems, 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 to aid in mission planning,” said Dave Barnhart, DARPA program manager. A SeeMe constellation may consist of some two dozen satellites, each costing about $500,000 apiece, and each built to last 60 days to 90 days, states the release. They would operate “in a very low earth orbit before deorbiting and completely burning up, leaving no space debris and causing no re-entry hazard,” it notes.
While some of the Air Force's newly announced changes will happen quickly, it may take most of Chief of Staff Gen. David W. Allvin's tenure in the job to accomplish the rest, he said in a Brookings Institution event Feb. 28.