Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

When it comes to innovative federal research, you can look no further than the work conducted at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). A federal agency that was first created after the launching of Sputnik have led to massive breakthroughs. Technologies that we used today, like the Internet, GPS, and automated voice recognition, were created at DARPA. A closer look at the history of DARPA could shed some light on how this agency has benefited the United States and how it could be a vital tool in future research and development.

The creation of DARPA was first introduced in 1958 when Sputnik was launched by the Soviet Union. After this historic launch, The Department of Defense created the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). Initially, ARPA was to focus on space technology, ballistic missile defense, and solid rocket fuel development. Not surprisingly, a lot of the research developed at ARPA was transferred over to NASA. One example of this was the Saturn V rocket, the main rocket used in the Apollo Missions, first tested at ARPA.

Saturn V
Figure 1. The Saturn V rocket.            Source: NASA.gov

Another major component that DARPA has helped solve is the threat of nuclear weapons. The 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty needed methods to detect nuclear detonations, more specifically from the Soviet Union. ARPA was able to create the VELA program, a electromagnetic satellite poised to observe any nuclear detonations conducted in the atmosphere.

Finally, in 1969, ARPA developed the system known as ARPANET, a system built to allow computers, separated by geographic displacement, to communicate information. This technology soon became available to the private sector when BBN Technologies brought the first routers online. With this technology, the Internet was born. Finally, in 1972,

ARPANET
The module used for ARPANET. Source: DARPA.gov                                                                   

Finally, DARPA has played a pivotal role in developing the weapons of the future. During the Vietnam War, ARPA played a role in bringing the AR-15 rifle into circulation to troops in the Vietnam War. In 1988, DARPA created the first unmanned aerial vehicle, known a UAV, which we know today as the Predator drones used in conflicts throughout the world. DARPA has played a pivotal role in ensuring that the United States develops technologies to promote national security.

Predator Drone
The Predator Drone. Source: https://www.wired.com/story/control-predator-drone-brett-velicovich/

From the various technologies produced at DARPA, the agency has been successful in producing technology that has revolutionized the private sector, the military, and other government agencies. With the continued focus on bringing passionate dedicated professionals to develop groundbreaking technologies, DARPA can continue to serve as a vital asset in the United States ability to provide scientific expertise to stay competitive in the global research environment.

Become a Supporter

Want to see more posts like this? Consider being a supporter of Politico Explorer! Join the Patreon family to be among fellow science enthusiasts and receive knowledgeable content on science related topics. To become a supporter, please go to the Patreon website to sign up. I hope to see you again real soon!