DARPA Competition to Launch to LEO From Most Anywhere Twice With a Few Weeks Notice

Three companies will try to launch to low-Earth orbit from two different U.S. locations within a matter of weeks in DARPA’s launch challenge.

1. Vector Launch
2. Virgin Orbit, which entered the competition via its wholly owned subsidiary, VOX Space; and
3. an anonymous third company.

DARPA awarded a $400,000 prize to each competitor that completed the qualification phase, which included submission and acceptance of an FAA commercial launch license application. Teams will receive a $2M prize for successfully delivering payloads to orbit in the first launch. For a successful second launch, prizes of $10 million, $9 million, and $8 million are available for the top three teams respectively, ranked by factors including mass, time to orbit, and orbit accuracy.