Reportedly, a three-way launch competition is now down to one mysterious company following two competitors withdrew, the U.S. DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) reported in the last week. DARPA asserted its TTO (Tactical Technology Office) will carry on the challenge early next year although Virgin Orbit and Vector subsidiary Vox Space inverted course, choosing not to contest. DARPA picked those two firms, in addition to a “stealth” competitor, in April as challengers from dozens of applicants. In an agency news release, Todd Master—Program Manager for DARPA’s Launch Challenge—asserted, “As stated in the rapidly narrowing field of participants, receptive and flexible entry to space continues as a significant challenge.”
Master added, “The future warfighting necessitates will need true space pliability, which is the capability to put possessions into orbit rapidly and from a range of locations. It is a fundamental move from a planned use of excellent space possessions to a more tactical outlook.” DARPA reported Vox Space—which markets LauncherOne air-launched rocket of Virgin Orbit to military clients—pulled out from the race in this month so that Virgin Group’s company can “aim at its next commercial launches.”
On a similar note, DARPA was in news for selecting teams for a virtual air combat contest. DARPA has picked almost eight teams to contest in the AlphaDogfight Trials, which is a virtual competition planned to show advanced AI (artificial intelligence) algorithms that can carry out replicated within-visual-range air combat moves, colloquially called a dogfight. The trials very directed to expand and energize a base of potential proposers and AI developers before an expected algorithm-development appeal to be circulated under DARPA’s ACE (Air Combat Evolution) program. The program was declared previously in this year and seeks to mechanize air-to-air combat and design human trust in AI as a move toward enhanced human-machine teaming.