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Stepping-Stones to the Future of Space Exploration: A Workshop Report
DARPA funds small systems or prototypes through armed services science and technology programs, which then advance the new technology by means of various armed service funding mechanisms and bring it into full production.
DARPA enters into a formal transition with a transition partner (usually a branch of the DOD), which submits to it a program objective memorandum (POM). Stealth technology was transitioned in this manner.
As a result of recommendations from the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization (the Rumsfeld Commission),1 a larger percentage of DARPA’s budget is invested in space now than in the recent past. According to Guerci, the report stated that U.S. space systems are vulnerable to attack, the space industrial base is weak, and the systems are aging. DARPA was subsequently directed to focus on the access and infrastructure questions related to space. There are three types of DARPA research in space:
Direct access (example: affordable launch vehicles and access to space),
Both direct and indirect access (example: microsatellites), and
Indirect access (example: payload compression).
Guerci mentioned the need to change the space research and development process by using a new paradigm to reduce the cost and increase the frequency of space deployments. A paper given by James Wertz at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Utah State University Conference on Small Satellites was referenced as an example.2 Collaboration between various space agencies is also critical, according to Guerci. There is a lot of excess capacity in launches, especially military launches, that could be used. The issue is that individuals and programs do not want to introduce additional risk into their missions even when they have extra space. Guerci suggested that the government mandate that excess capacity be used.
Steering committee member Molly Macauley asked if the Moon-Mars mission should be done by DARPA instead of NASA. Guerci replied that DARPA does not typically handle large acquisition projects well. Its focus is on proof-of-concept demonstrations. NASA has tremendous capability as well as resources that do not exist in DARPA, and there is also a lot of synergy between industry and NASA. Macauley then asked about risk at DARPA. Guerci said that DARPA fails often and may even try several times. But when a project finally succeeds, its payoff can be immense (e.g., stealth technology, the Internet).
Brad Parkinson, Stanford University, began by discussing the Global Positioning System and its role as a transformer of capabilities, first for the military and then for the