DARPA Wants Rocket-Powered Earth Eyeball

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants industry help in developing a rocket that can deliver an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) packed with intelligence and surveillance instruments to any spot on the globe â€" within one hour.

DARPA said its “Rapid Eye” program needs technologies that will allow the military to deliver via a rocket a 500 pound UAV to near an area where it wants to conduct surveillance, decelerate the UAV from rocket velocity to the speed at which a UAV flies, deploy the UAV using its propulsion system, and beam back intelligence for a minimum of seven hours.

This is real rocket science folks, so anyone interested in this project should be up to speed on technologies such as low ballistic coefficient aerodynamic decelerators, low stored volume, deployable UAV structures, and high-efficiency propulsion systems for vehicles operating at high altitudes.

DARPA plans to hold a Rapid Eye Industry Day on July 25 at the Booz Allen Hamilton building, 38111 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Va.

Since it is almost as challenging to get anywhere in the DC Metro area by car in an hour as it is to develop a UAV that can be rocketed anywhere on earth in an hour, here’s a tip for anyone planning to attend the Rapid Eye Industry Day: The Booz Allen building is handily located at the Virginia Square stop on the Metro Orange Line.