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COLORADO SPRINGS — The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced a prize competition April 18 to demonstrate the ability to rapidly launch small satellites, a competition whose regulatory challenges may tower over its technical ones.
The DARPA Launch Challenge, formally announced at the 34th Space Symposium here but previewed at a February conference, will offer a top prize of $10 million to the team whose vehicle is able to perform two launches of small satellites, from two different sites, on short notice.
Team - Launch - Launch - Site - Notice
Each team that successfully carries out that initial launch will receive $2 million and will be eligible for a second launch at a different site, again on short notice. DARPA will then award prizes based on a combination of time to launch, mass launched and orbital accuracy. The exact scoring process using those factors is still being developed, Todd Master, program manager for the competition, said in a briefing here.
The winning team will receive $10 million, while the competition will also offer second and third prizes of $9 million and $8 million, respectively. All teams that qualify for the competition will receive $400,000.
Competition - Discussions - DARPA - Number - Companies
The competition emerged from discussions DARPA had with the growing number of companies developing small launch vehicles. "We asked them what DARPA could do to help them be successful," said Fred Kennedy, director of DARPA's Tactical Technology Office, during a panel session at the symposium where he announced the challenge.
"We wanted to have them be successful not simply individually, but as a nascent industry to enable a new community of space access service providers, to remove the launch bottleneck and finally allow us to really fulfill the promise of the space domain," he said.
Feedback - DARPA - Competition - Launch
What emerged from the feedback DARPA received was a prize competition to enable a responsive launch...
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