A morning to remember.
It’s been a battle. Following months of intense technical development, challenging meetings, and a nailbiting waiting game, Saturday morning we got the email. “Your Application to the DARPA Launch Challenge has been approved."
No doubt, our proposal has some really exciting parts. But lately, we have watched our fellow challengers get millions of dollars in funding and populate their boardrooms with important names. Would we stand a chance?
Growing up in communist Czechoslovakia and then socialist Sweden, once in a while I’d see people on TV grinning from ear to ear while exclaiming, “only in America.” I moved here and, well, look at us now.
We are not home free yet. The last step of the qualification phase is acceptance by FAA, which has a rigorous technical review process for flight safety. That's our fun over the holidays. At least we have lots of snow in the mountains for quick skiing escapes. And then, of course, we’ll have to build and fly the rockets.
Only two private companies have managed thus far to send a rocket with payload to orbit. SpaceX, which is history now, and Rocketlab, valued at +1 billion dollars already before their first launch.
Make no mistake - Mars is still number one. DARPA only just became a major step to make it happen.
American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson once checked the entire human history for motivations that had bankrolled great explorations. Major drive, he found, was neither amazing dreams or great visions but… defense.
We budget Pythom Mars to $600 million. Stars willing, with the recent valuations of small launch systems, we may soon have it financed.
DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) was created in 1958 by President Eisenhower in response to the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957. DARPA's mission is to invest in breakthrough technologies affecting national security.
In 1958 DARPA (then called ARPA) supported a team of engineers led by Wernher Von Braun to design and build what later became the engines to power Saturn V and the first moon landing. DARPA is famous in its role to develop ARPANET (or INTERNET as it is called today) and the TCP/IP technology that is used daily by billions of people around the world to communicate online.
Pythom is part of the DARPA Launch Challenge, with a mission to send payloads to orbit, anytime, and from anywhere. More here.