Defense secretary to visit Silicon Valley startup

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (KGO) -- As tension grows over North Korea, Defense Secretary James Mattis is in the Bay Area Thursday, visiting The Defense Innovation Unit Experimental in Mountain View.

The facility fosters partnerships between The U.S. Department of Defense and Technology companies in Silicon Valley to speed up the development of urgent solutions the military needs. It's believed that small startups might be more nimble than traditional defense contractors.

ABC7 News has been included among a select number of news organizations to meet with the secretary this afternoon in Mountain View.

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The situation involving North Korea is a prime example of the need to accelerate tech development. Existing spy satellites have spotty coverage due to atmospheric conditions.

The U.S. needs to identify North Korea's rapidly developing nuclear development program and launch sites - a crucial step if the U.S. needs to initiate a pre-emptive strike.

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The Defense Innovation Unit Experimental has put $100 million into 45 pilot projects, mostly in Silicon Valley. One of them, Palo Alto based Capella Space, is counting down the days and hours to the launch of its first baby satellite, capable of seeing through clouds and storms and darkness. The goal is to circle the earth with 36 of them, each no bigger than a backpack.
The first launch is planned before the end of this year with additional launches in 2018.

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The need for speed to develop new systems is even more critical as North Korea threatens to demonstrate its nuclear capability.

The Defense Innovation Unit Experimental has much to gain if it sees results. The risk of failure is being shared by venture capitalists, including the investment arm of Google, who have chipped in $1.8 billion into the companies.

Watch the full report on ABC7 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. and be sure to follow David Louie on Twitter for the latest updates.
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