Firefly Aerospace and Millennium Space Systems have initiated the hot standby phase for the United States Space Force’s Victus Nox mission. The objective of this groundbreaking initiative is to launch a satellite with just 24 hours’ notice, a capability that typically takes months or years to achieve.
The hot standby phase began on August 30, and once the U.S. Space Force activates the mission, Millennium has a tight 60-hour window to deliver the satellite to Firefly Aerospace. Firefly Aerospace will then face its own countdown to launch the satellite within 24 hours. The exact timing of the mission will remain uncertain for the next six months.
The Victus Nox mission is part of the Department of Defense’s strategy to develop a tactically responsive space capability. It aims to reduce satellite mission planning time from months to hours during times of crisis. The mission also addresses concerns about the vulnerability of essential satellites, preparing for scenarios in which important satellites are disabled by adversaries.
Under the partnership, Millennium Space Systems, a subsidiary of Boeing, will be responsible for delivering the satellite, while Firefly Aerospace, based in Texas, will provide its light-lift Alpha launch vehicle to propel the satellite into low Earth orbit.
Firefly CEO Bill Weber expressed pride in providing critical on-demand launch capability for national security. Once the alert is sounded, the teams will transport the payload to Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, perform fueling operations, and connect it to Firefly’s Alpha payload adapter. They will have just 24 hours to complete all necessary tasks before launching the rocket.
CEO of Millennium Space Systems, Jason Kim, highlighted the unique nature of their partnership, emphasizing the importance of adaptability and collaboration. Both companies have undergone rigorous preparations, including successful rocket tests and rehearsals.
This mission follows the successful launch of TacRL-2 in 2021, and the Department of Defense is already planning for the next phase, Victus Haze, with the aim of leveraging commercial capabilities for swift execution.