Thu, Apr 10, 2008
Formed In Response To Sputnik I Launch
It seems we've only heard about it
for a few years... but the Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency is celebrating its 50th anniversary this Thursday. The
agency is better known by its acronym, DARPA.
The Washington Post reports the agency considers its best
program managers to be "freewheeling zealots" with big ideas. The
staff has been called "100 geniuses connected by a travel agent."
And the boss describes his agency as a home for "radical
Agency director Anthony J. Tether says DARPA conducts "...the
highest-risk type of research you can have. DARPA will take a
chance on an idea with no data. We'll put up the money to go get
the data and see if the idea holds."
DARPA was formed as part of the desperate US response to the
successful launch of the Soviet man-made satellite, Sputnik, in
1957. In the intervening half-century, DARPA ideas and grants have
been responsible for the first computer mouse, carved from wood
with one button, and the blueprint which created the internet
DARPA is used to handling large chunks of cash, and that
experience will come in handy when it's time to settle the tab for
the birthday party. While the agency itself reportedly employs only
about 240 people, the celebration will involve a dinner for 1,700
alumni, friends and partners Thursday night in Washington.
Recent DARPA-supported projects of note in the aerospace
community include a number of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)
programs, and a search-and-rescue gyroplane design under
development by Groen Brothers.
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