A surprise rocket launch by the U.S. Space Force in Southern California resulted in a new record for sending a satellite into space on short notice. The Firefly Alpha rocket took off from Vandenberg Space Force Base on Thursday evening, successfully delivering a satellite as part of the “Victus Nox” mission. The launch created a visible contrail in the sky, catching many residents off guard.
The successful mission marks a significant achievement for the Space Force in terms of readiness and operational speed. Traditionally, space launches require months or even years of planning, but the Space Force aims to change that as space becomes increasingly important in military and civilian applications.
According to Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein, commander of Space Systems Command, the success of Victus Nox represents a culture shift in the nation’s ability to deter aggression and respond rapidly to deliver crucial capabilities to military personnel.
The satellite manufacturer and launch team were on “hot standby,” waiting for the green light to proceed. It took only 58 hours to transport, test, fuel, and mate the satellite to the rocket. Then, after receiving a surprise “go” from the military, it took an additional 27 hours to configure the mission and launch it into space. This accomplishment sets a new response time record, surpassing the previous record of 21 days in 2021.
Firefly Aerospace, a relatively new space launch company specializing in small- to medium-lift launches, achieved its first fully successful launch with the Firefly Alpha rocket. Adam Oakes, VP of launch vehicles at Firefly Aerospace, stated that this mission further validates their technology and commitment to being a leading responsive launch provider for government and commercial customers.
The historic launch demonstrates the Space Force’s dedication to advancing its capabilities and adapting to the evolving needs of space missions.