A story byhas posted a feature article at the publication's news site that reveals Raytheon Missile Systems is adapting their missile interceptor technology to develop small, disposable military satellites that will give ground troops on-demand views of their locations.
Raytheon has modified some of their manufacturing lines in Tucson, according to David's article, to produce relatively inexpensive satellites for a program called Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements, or SeeMe. The program, managed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARP), aims to give ground forces the ability to obtain high-resolution satellite images of the battlefield via their smartphones or other hand-held devices, within 90 minutes. In contrast to military spy satellites as big as a bus that cost $1 billion or more, Raytheon’s nanosatellites weigh about 50 pounds, are roughly the size of a 5 gallon paint bucket and have an expected base price tag of less than $500,000.
DARPA’s request for SeeMe designs caught the attention of the folks at Raytheon’s sprawling missile plant at Tucson International Airport, which was looking for new markets. The SeeMe constellation was designed to use some two dozen satellites, each lasting 60 to 90 days in LEO before falling out of orbit and burning up.