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DARPA envisions disposable SeeMe satellites for on-demand reconnaissance

Zachary Lutz

A new project from DARPA could successfully bring satellites to the same throwaway status as paper cups and Charlie Sheen's income (#winning). At $500,000 a pop, the orbitals would hardly be chump change, but the Pentagon insists these airborne systems could provide reconnaissance within 90 minutes of deployment and would deliver valuable tactical information to areas not covered by current satellites. Known as SeeMe, the systems would be launched in groups of 24 -- which equates to a $12 million cluster -- and would remain in orbit for 60 to 90 days, at which point they'd burn up upon atmospheric re-entry. Currently, DARPA is seeking contractors that can manufacture the systems rapidly at low costs, which can also "develop advanced technologies for optics, power, propulsion and communications to keep size and weight down." It's said to further discuss the project at a March 27th event known as Proposers' Day. In the meantime, we're going to hit the junkyard and see what we can cobble together.

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