Broadcast 1263 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

23 Nov 2009 Michael Belfiore
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Guest: Michael Belfiore. Topics: DARPA, space and technology research and development. Michael Belfiore returned to The Space Show to discuss his new book, "The Department of Mad Scientists: How DARPA Is Remaking Our World, from the Internet to Artificial Limbs." This book is available on the One Giant Leap Foundation (OGLF) website as an Amazon partner, Remember, if you buy the book from the OGLF site, Amazon makes a contribution to The Space Show/OGLF. During our first segment, Mr. Belfiore provided us with a basic understanding of DARPA and its origins. He talked about developing the ARPANET in 1969 which was the beginning of the internet. During this segment, we also discussed the mission for DARPA and NASA in the early days and how each mission developed into the two modern organizations. Alternative energy and biofuels were discussed near the end of this segment as examples of current DARPA projects, along with the DARPA activity in the medical field. In segment two, we continued talking about medicine with a DARPA focus to keeping people safe. Science fiction came up and you will find Michael's comparisons and comments regarding Iron Man to be most interesting. We talked about career opportunities for women and others, that DARPA researchers work for a fixed time and then move on. Also, one has to be an American citizen to work at DARPA. Michael was asked about the success rate of DARPA projects and we learned its not tracked. We also learned that DARPA researchers have permission to fail. Listen to this discussion, its most interesting. Scramjet research was introduced in this segment as was the funding for DARPA. Toward the end of the segment, autonomous auto races and vehicles came up with related technology and this discussion spilled over to the last segment. In our third and final segment, we talked about commercial spinoffs from DARPA projects, especially with cars and other vehicles. We talked about the computer environment at DARPA and the constant for the organization being change. We also talked about the differences between DARPA and NASA. Among the many listener questions, Michael was asked if DARPA did SSP research. He said he doubted it as DARPA focuses on near term projects, 2-6 years out and projects must have a commercial affordability component to them. I strongly recommend you read this book as DARPA is a very important organization impacting all our lives for the better. You can learn more about Michael Belfiore and his work at his website, To send him an email comment or question, please use his Contact webpage and reference The Space Show,



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