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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technologies.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is part of the United States Department of Defense making "pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security".

Dwight D. Eisenhower created the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) on February 7, 1958 in response to the Soviet Union's successful launch of the first satellite into earth's orbit, Sputnik 1, in 1957. The successful launch of Sputnik 1 caught the US government and president Eisenhower off guard. Eisenhower went on to say that ARPA was created to "prevent technological surprise".

ARPA would later be renamed to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 1972. DARPA was briefly became ARPA again from 1993-1996, before adopting DARPA again in 1996. According to the Deputy Secretary of Defense at the time, William Perry, DAPRA adopted it's former name ARPA to "expand the agency's mission to pursue imaginative and innovative research and development projects having significant potential for both military and commercial (dual-use) applications."

Technologies developed by DARPA

Since the founding of DARPA in 1958, the agency has been responsible for developing several important technologies. Notable technologies developed, or helped, by DARPA include: the internet, graphical user interfaces (GUIs), the weather satellite, interactive maps (Example: Google Maps), voice-recognition systems (Example: Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri), Unix, cloud computing, and Global Positioning Systems (GPS).

Living Foundries

This program seeks to enhance national defense through improving the synthetic biology capabilities of the United States of America. The living foundries program consists of two primary programs: 1. Living foundries: Advanced Tools and Capabilities for Generalizable Platforms (ATCG), and 2. Living Foundries: 1000 Molecules.


August 1, 1960
Success of the Corona program

The Corona photo-reconnaissance program was a joint spy satellite program between ARPA and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). A satellite from the program successfully took and delivered photos to the United States government that were taken over the Soviet Union, providing military intelligence during the Cold War until the program was decommissioned in 1972.

Image taken by the Corona photo-reconnaissance program.

April 1, 1960
Launch of first weather satellite (TIROS)

ARPA in partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), U.S. Defense Department, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) worked together on the Television and Infrared Observations Satellites (TIROS) program to develop and successfully launch the worlds first weather satellite into orbit.

Animation of the TIROS satellite.

January 1, 1960
Establishment of the scientific field of material science

ARPA announced in the first three materials science and engineering contracts to their own Interdisciplinary Laboratory (IDL) program. The IDL program continued issuing new material science contracts until 1972 when the National Science Foundation took over the program changing its name to the Materials Research Laboratories (MRL) program.

January 1, 1959
Electronically Steered Array Radar (ESAR) program

ARPA pioneers supporting technologies and construction of the first ground-based phased array radars.

Photo of a ground-based phased array radar made by ARPA.

October 4, 1957
The Sputnik surprise and creation of ARPA

The Soviet Union (USSR) successfully launches the worlds first satellite into orbit, surprising the United States government. This event ultimately lead to the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) on February 7, 1958 with the goal of keeping the United States the global technological superpower.



Andreas Olofsson

Program Manager

Aratl Prabhakar


Brian M. Pierce

Deputy Director of Information Innovation Office

Dan Kaufman


Daniel Wattendorf

Program Manager

Jerome Dunn

Program Manager

Justin Sanchez

Program Manager

Paul Tighman

Program Manager of Microsystems Technology Office

Peter Hihgnam

Deputy Director

Stefanie Tompkins

Acting Deputy Director

Steven H. Walker


Timothy Chung

Program Manager

Tyler McQuade

Deputy Director of Defense Sciences Office

William Chappell

Director of Microsystems Technology Office

Further reading


"Special Forces" Innovation: How DARPA Attacks Problems

Regina E. Dugan and Kaigham J. Gabriel

Web article

DARPA To Fund New AI Concepts With Millions

Sam Shead

News article

DARPA's Biotech Chief Says 2017 Will "Blow Our Minds"

Dina Fine Maron

Web article

Drones Recharged by a Laser Could Fly Forever

Kyle Mizokami

News article

Documentaries, videos and podcasts


Voices from DARPA (Podcast)





Annalee Armstrong
June 23, 2021
President Biden has proposed a new research agency to sit within the National Institutes of Health, called the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. The program has requested an initial $6.5 billion in funding "to develop breakthroughs--to prevent, detect, and treat diseases like Alzheimer's, diabetes, and cancer," according to a paper by several officials published Tuesday.
Dieynaba Young
June 18, 2021
Smithsonian Magazine
The so-called 'living pharmacy' will be able to manufacture pharmaceuticals from inside the body
David Hambling
June 10, 2021
New Scientist
The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has developed a drone interceptor that fires what appears to be a form of Silly String into their rotors, bringing them down with minimal risk of accidental damage
The Economist
May 30, 2021
The Economist
They will not succeed unless they adopt the spirit which motivates it
Virginia Heffernan
May 28, 2021
Los Angeles Times
If it works on social media, imagine how many janky cancellations DARPA's AI program could save us.
Paul Constant
May 15, 2021
Business Insider
Economist Mariana Mazzucato says the government "needs to redesign policy away from fixing markets and towards creating and shaping markets."
Blackrock Microsystems
May 13, 2021
/PRNewswire/ -- Blackrock Microsystems, a privately held company that provides enabling tools for neuroscience, neural engineering and neuroprosthetics...
Yusef Paolo Rabiah
April 30, 2021
The UK government recently announced an £800 million, taxpayer-funded Advanced Research and Invention Agency (Aria). The brainchild of the British prime minister's former chief adviser, Dominic Cummings and modeled on the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Darpa, the organization will focus partly on genomic research.
Taylor Hatmaker
April 29, 2021
In a joint address to Congress last night, President Biden updated the nation on vaccination efforts and outlined his administration's ambitious goals. Biden's first 100 days have been characterized by sweeping legislative packages that could lift millions of Americans out of poverty and slow the clock on the climate crisis, but during his first joint [...]
DNA Script
April 28, 2021
/PRNewswire/ -- DNA Script gab heute eine Partnerschaft mit Moderna, Inc. (Nasdaq: MRNA) zur Entwicklung eines Prototyps für die schnelle mobile Herstellung...
April 27, 2021
DNA Script Partners with Moderna to Develop On-Demand Vaccines and Therapeutics for DARPA - read this article along with other careers information, tips and advice on BioSpace
Perspecta Inc.
April 22, 2021
/PRNewswire/ -- Perspecta Inc. (NYSE: PRSP) announced today that its innovative applied research arm, Perspecta Labs, received a prime award for work on...
Elizabeth Howell
April 22, 2021
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has picked three big space companies for the first phase of a larger project to test nuclear propulsion above low Earth orbit by 2025.
Marianne Guenot
April 16, 2021
Business Insider
A tiny strip of gel is injected under the skin and senses a change in the body's chemistry that can tell a sensor that an infection is developing.
April 14, 2021
A Pentagon-funded agency has developed a filter that is able to remove the Coronavirus from blood cells when linked to a dialysis machine.
Saqib Shah
April 14, 2021
DARPA has picked Jeff Bezo's Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin and General Atomics to build and demonstrate a spacecraft driven by nuclear thermal propulsion.
April 13, 2021
TFF Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: TFFP), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing innovative drug products based on its patented Thin Film Freezing (TFF) technology
Fiona Murray
April 5, 2021
Harvard Business Review
Why limiting time and outcomes -- instead of budget and risk -- inspires teams to think big.
DNA Script
March 3, 2021
/PRNewswire/ -- DNA Script a annoncé aujourd'hui que la société a été sélectionnée par GE Research pour prendre part à une collaboration de recherche visant à...
Molecular Assemblies, Inc.
March 2, 2021
/PRNewswire/ -- Molecular Assemblies, Inc., a pioneer in the field of enzymatic DNA synthesis, today announced the company's participation in a new project...


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