Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Space Systems

Unmanned space systems, including vehicles, robotics and supporting technologies, as well as technologies for space situational awareness

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DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO) focuses on developing and demonstrating innovative system-level technologies and prototypes that incorporate new and emerging technologies, all for the purpose of preserving and significantly extending U.S. military advantages over potential adversaries. To help accomplish these goals and inform potential performers about TTO’s technical objectives, TTO held its fourth annual Proposers Day at DARPA's offices in Arlington, Va. On Wednesday and Thursday, April 20 and 21, 2016.
In an era of declining budgets and adversaries’ evolving capabilities, quick, affordable and routine access to space is increasingly critical for both national and economic security. Current satellite launch systems, however, require scheduling years in advance for an extremely limited inventory of available slots. Moreover, launches often cost hundreds of millions of dollars each, due in large part to the massive amounts of dedicated infrastructure and large number of personnel required. DARPA created its Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program to help overcome these challenges and create a new paradigm for more routine, responsive and affordable space operations, reducing the time to get capabilities to space.
| Cost | Launch | Space |
Military commanders responsible for situational awareness and command and control of assets in space know all too well the challenge that comes from the vast size of the space domain. The volume of Earth’s operational space domain is hundreds of thousands times larger than the Earth’s oceans. It contains thousands of objects hurtling at tens of thousands of miles per hour. The scales and speeds in this extreme environment are difficult enough to grasp conceptually, let alone operationally, as is required for commanders overseeing the nation’s increasingly critical space assets.
More than 500,000 pieces of manmade space debris—including spent rocket stages, defunct satellites, and fragments as small as flecks of paint—currently hurtle around the Earth at roughly 17,000 miles per hour. At those speeds, impacts involving even the smallest of those items can damage satellites and spawn chain reactions of collisions, increasing the amount of orbital flotsam and creating “minefields” in space that can remain unpassable for centuries.
In the latest installment of DARPA’s new podcast series, Voices from DARPA, Lindsay Millard discusses the Agency’s Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) program, a key component in the nation’s ability to detect and track space debris and other objects to determine if they will collide with orbiting satellites or impact the Earth.