Tag Archives: space intelligence

Just Hit Seeme; the new military satellites of DARPA

Seeme Program Image from DARPA website

The Seeme Program from DARPA website:

DARPA’s SeeMe (Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements) program aims to give mobile individual US warfighters access to on-demand, space-based tactical information in remote and beyond- line-of-sight conditions. If successful, SeeMe will provide small squads and individual teams the ability to receive timely imagery of their specific overseas location directly from a small satellite with the press of a button — something that’s currently not possible from military or commercial satellites.

The program seeks to develop a constellation of small “disposable” satellites, at a fraction of the cost of airborne systems, enabling deployed warfighters overseas to hit ‘see me’ on existing handheld devices to receive a satellite image of their precise location within 90 minutes. DARPA plans SeeMe to be an adjunct to unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology, which provides local and regional very-high resolution coverage but cannot cover extended areas without frequent refueling. SeeMe aims to support warfighters in multiple deployed overseas locations simultaneously with no logistics or maintenance costs beyond the warfighters’ handheld devices.

The SeeMe constellation may consist of some two-dozen satellites, each lasting 60-90 days in a very low-earth orbit before de-orbiting and completely burning up, leaving no space debris and causing no re-entry hazard. The program may leverage DARPA’s Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, which is developing an aircraft-based satellite launch platform for payloads on the order of 100 lbs. ALASA seeks to provide low-cost, rapid launch of small satellites into any required orbit, a capability not possible today from fixed ground launch sites.

From the DARPA Website

Raytheon Company was awarded a $1.5 million Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract for phase one of the agency’s Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements (SeeMe) program. During the next nine months, the company will complete the design for small satellites to enhance warfighter situational awareness in the battlespace.  Raython News Release, Dec. 13, 2012

Battlespace: the Space-Based Infrared System and Missile Defense

The Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) is a consolidated system intended to meet the United States’ infrared space surveillance needs through the first two to three decades of the 21st century. The SBIRS program is designed to provide key capabilities the areas of missile warning  (MW), missile defense (MD) and battlespace characterization.

SBIRS is an integrated “system of systems” that will include satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GEO), sensors hosted on satellites in highly elliptical orbit (HEO), and ground-based data processing and control. SBIRS ground software integrates infrared sensor programs of the U.S. Air Force (USAF) with new IR sensors. SBIRS continues to struggle with cost overruns…. By September 2007, the expected project cost had increased to $10.4 billion

The original contract consisted of 2 HEO satellite sensors and 2-3 GEO sensors (and satellites) with an option to buy a total of 5 GEOs.

Exceprts from Wikipedia, SBIRS

Lockheed Martin’s SBIRS contracts include four highly elliptical orbiting (HEO) payloads, four GEO satellites, and ground assets to receive, process, and disseminate the infrared mission data. Lockheed Martin expects to receive funding to begin long lead parts procurement for the fifth and sixth GEO satellite by the end of the year (2012).

Lockheed Martin has received the GEO-4 (May 2012).   The GEO-4 structure, identical to the previous three SBIRS GEO spacecraft, is made from lightweight, high-strength composite materials designed to withstand the accelerations and vibrations generated during launch and support the spacecraft throughout on-orbit operations.  According to Lockheed Martin “Delivery of the SBIRS GEO-4 core structure is a major milestone indicating the program is continuing to meet its commitments….Based on lessons learned from the first two SBIRS geosynchronous satellites, production of GEO-3 and GEO-4 is proceeding very well. In addition, we have a number of affordability initiatives in place jointly with the Air Force to continually reduce the cost of each follow-on SBIRS satellite.”

Excerpts, Lockheed Martin Delivers Core Structure for Fourth SBIRS Satellite, Press Release Lockheed Martin, May 24, 2012

See also US Air Force