DARPA, the DoD’s blue-sky research arm, was hatched in the late 1950s as a precursor to NASA with the express directives of establishing rocket tech dominance over the Soviets and beating them into space. Things are a bit different these days – we now have NASA and we no longer have the USSR – but apparently someone out east took a shining to the DARPA model. Russia announced today that it will be fielding its own DARPA-like agency to develop innovative military technology from the ground up.
The enthusiasts at the Large Dangerous Rocket Ship event pursue rocketry for its own sake, but that purity is rare in the history of the endeavor. Most unmanned launches have been aimed at military advantage or space domination.