More than $10 million in prize money for the first place team that successfully launches to low Earth orbit within days’ notice; completes a second launch from a different site days later.
DARPA announced the DARPA Launch Challenge, designed to promote rapid access to space within days, not years. With the launch challenge, DARPA plans to accelerate capabilities and further incentivize industry to deliver launch solutions that are both flexible and responsive.
In late 2019, qualified teams will compete for prizes, with a top prize of $10 million. Teams will receive exact details on the payload in the days before each of the two launch events, with only a few weeks’ notice about the location of the first launch site. Once they successfully deliver their payload to low Earth orbit (LEO), competing teams will get details of the second launch site. Teams again will have just days to successfully deliver a second payload to LEO, for a chance at a prize. Final ranking for the top three prizes will depend on speed, payload, mass, and orbit accuracy.
DARPA is coordinating closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is responsible for granting licenses for commercial space launches and will be involved throughout the challenge. Competitors participating in the DARPA Launch Challenge are required to obtain FAA licenses for all launch activity conducted under this effort.
Register to learn more about the challenge at the May 23, 2018, industry day in Los Angeles. Representatives from DARPA and the FAA, which licenses commercial space launches, will provide details about the vision, key milestones, and an opportunity for one-on-one Q&A. To register to attend or for additional guidelines on how to participate in the challenge, please visit www.darpalaunchchallenge.org.