Formed as part of an emergency response by the US to the successful launch of a Soviet satellite, Sputnik, in 1957, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has celebrated its 50th anniversary this Thursday.
The agency is better known by its acronym, DARPA.
According to agency director, Anthony J Tether, DARPA conducts "...the highest-risk type of research you can have. DARPA will take a chance on an idea with no data. We'll put up the money to go get the data and see if the idea holds."
Since its launch, DARPA ideas and grants have been responsible for the creation of the first computer mouse - carved from wood with one button - and the blueprint which created the Internet itself.
Recent DARPA-supported projects in the aerospace community include a number of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) programmes and a search-and-rescue gyro-plane design.