By Allen McDuffee
12.09.13 3:29 PM
Spying could become much easier if a new lightweight, folding satellite concept gets off the ground.
Darpa, the military’s futuristic research agency, says it has plans to “break the glass ceiling” of space telescopes by shooting a new design into orbit that’s made of plastic and unfolds into a mammoth satellite that would dwarf the world’s most famous telescopes.
Darpa’s Membrane Optical Imager for Real-Time Exploitation (MOIRE) program redesigns the traditional glass telescope into an orbital telescope that’s bigger and lighter than previous imaging satellites, making it easier to spy on larger areas and for longer periods of time.
Launched as a tightly packed cluster of petals 20 feet in diameter, MOIRE stretches to 68 feet across once it reaches 22,000 miles above the earth. From orbit, MOIRE could view approximately 40 percent of the earth’s surface at once while recording high resolution images and video, making it the ultimate spying satellite (Darpa notes that it could also be beneficial in weather forecasting and disaster response).