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Satellite technology will offer increased situational awareness to US ground troops within the framework of a program that seeks the manufacture of small satellites at affordable costs, and enables small squads to receive tactical imagery directly from a small satellite.

The first Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements (SeeMe) satellites have been delivered to the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The new SeeMe satellite supplied by Raytheon has been assembled on the company’s advanced missile production lines.

Under the program, a future constellation of small satellites will be built to deliver high-resolution images of precise locations of interest to the handheld devices used by the soldiers.

Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems vice-president Dr Thomas Bussing said: “Ground troops can’t always get immediate access to the larger, military and commercial satellites.

“These smaller, SeeMe satellites will be dedicated to soldiers, providing them with real-time images from space when they’re needed most.”

The company can use its automated missile production lines to develop large numbers of the SeeMe satellites.

A SeeMe constellation is expected to comprise different types of small satellites, each capable of being operational for one to five years before de-orbiting and burning up, thereby leaving no space debris and causing no re-entry hazard.

Once built, the US research agency will integrate the satellite on to a Spaceflight Industries payload that is slated to be launched into low-earth orbit on a SpaceX rocket later this year, as reported by army-technology.com.

Military users will be able to assess and evaluate the satellite’s performance during missions to be carried out early next year.