Small Satellites Help Homeland Security

Polar Scout satellites are small low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites that can be used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to find missing people in hard-to-reach places on this planet.

Small satellites can help find lost soldiers. That is the goal of the two small Polar Scout satellites developed by Raytheon Co. for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in partnership with Millennium Engineering and Integration. The satellites feature flexible RF/microwave receivers that help search-and-rescue teams locate emergency beacons in remote areas.

The small satellites were assembled (see figure) at Raytheon’s advanced missile production facility (Tucson, Ariz.) and are the results of a project led by the U.S. Air Force Operationally Responsive Space Program to show that they can be built efficiently and cost-effectively.

A Raytheon worker prepares a smallsat Homeland Security satellite for its low-Earth-orbit (LEO) path around this planet. (Photo courtesy of Raytheon Co.)

Such small satellites are less expensive and can be produced more quickly than large geostationary satellites. The smaller satellites operate from lower orbits than larger geostationary satellites and, with their small apertures and sensors, can meet mission requirements normally handled by larger, more expensive satellites in higher orbits.

Raytheon was not alone on the small satellite project, working with Rincon Research and Space Dynamics Laboratories in addition to Millennium to develop and produce the Polar Scout satellites. These compact satellites, or smallsats as they are known, are scheduled to be launched later this year into lower Earth orbit for their Homeland Security duties.

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