DARPA’s SeeMe Program Targeted for Cancellation

Space News reports that the Senate Appropriations Committee wants to cancel DARPA’s Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements (SeeMe) project, which aims to develop a constellation of low-cost imaging satellites capable of delivering data to handheld devices in real time.

The committee has nixed $10.5 million from the FY 2014 budget that the agency would use to finish tests on six prototype satellites and receiving technology. The House does not mention the program in its bill.

Left unanswered is the fate of DARPA’s Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, which is intended to launch the SeeMe satellites. ALASA’s goal is to quickly launch 100-pound spacecraft into orbit for $1 million apiece. If the SeeMe program is cancelled, would ALASA follow?

Last year, DARPA awarded the following ALASA contracts to six companies:

Launch System Design and Development Concepts

  • Lockheed Martin Corp., Palmdale, Calif.: $6.2 million
  • Boeing, Huntington Beach, Calif., $4.5 million
  • Virgin Galactic, Las Cruces, N.M.

Enabling Technologies

  • Northrup Grumman, El Segundo, Calif., $2.3 million
  • Space Information Laboratories LLC, Santa Maria, Calif., $1.9 million
  • Ventions LLC, San Francisco, Calif., $969,396.

DARPA Awards 6 Small Airborne Launch Vehicle Contracts

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

DARPA has awarded six contracts for its Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, which is designed to produce a rocket capable of launching a 100-pound satellite into low Earth orbit for less than $1 million. Winners include Virgin Galactic, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrup Grumman.