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Spaceflight companies challenged to launch rockets within days, not years

/ 04:30 PM April 23, 2018

Image: DARPA Launch Challenge official website

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the United States Department of Defense issued a challenge to spaceflight companies like SpaceX to launch rockets into space faster than ever before.

The DARPA Launch Challenge was conceived to find a better, faster way of launching rockets into space. DARPA wants to see a preparation time of just days instead of the traditional months and years of planning.

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Todd Master, the Launch Challenge program manager for DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, envisions the future launch environment to have similarities with modern-day airline operations. In this vision, spaceflight companies have the means of launching payload into space on short notice, with no prior knowledge of the payload, destination orbit or launch site.

Image: DARPA Launch Challenge official website

Qualified teams will compete for a cash prize of $10 million (about P520 million).

Image: DARPA Launch Challenge official website

Registrations are now open and will run until December. The participants will be announced in the first quarter of 2019. The competition proper will be held in the latter part of 2019, where teams will be required to quickly launch two payloads into space.

Image: DARPA Launch Challenge official website

Criteria for judging will be done under a new metric of importance called “Time Value of Launch.” This metric considers the cost, accuracy and speed of a team’s launch attempt. Additional details about the contest will be released on May 23.

DARPA also organizes other competitions for the technology industry. One of these is the Robotics Challenge, focused on developing nimble robots that could effectively move around complicated environments. JB

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TOPICS: DARPA, DARPA Launch Challenge, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, robotics, Rocket Launch, spaceflight
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