An artist’s conception shows multiple rockets lifting off from an oceanside launch complex. (DARPA Illustration)
Three teams have qualified to go into the rocket-launching phase of the DARPA Launch Challenge: Vector Launch, Virgin Orbit’s VOX Space subsidiary … and a team to be named later.
In making today’s announcement, DARPA said the third team asked to stay anonymous for a few months more, for competitive reasons. That mystery team will come out of stealth in advance of the fly-off, which has been shifted to take place early 2020.
Like previous DARPA competitions, the Launch Challenge is meant to boost commercial innovation in a technological area of interest to the military — in this case, rapid and flexible launch capabilities.
Here’s how the challenge works: DARPA will ask the three competitors to launch payloads to low-Earth orbit from two different U.S. locations within a matter of weeks. Teams will receive notice of the first launch site a few weeks prior to launch, and they’ll find out the exact details surrounding the payload and intended orbit just days before launch.
More than 50 teams signed up to take part in the DARPA launch challenge, but the three finalists were able to complete ...