Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket successfully launched the U.S. Space Force’s second operational tactically responsive space demonstration on September 14. This launch set a record for flying within 27 hours of receiving launch orders. The mission, called Victus Nox, aimed to demonstrate the ability to rapidly acquire, build, integrate, and launch a satellite.
The spacecraft for the mission was built by Boeing subsidiary Millennium Space Systems, and it launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. With the satellite now in orbit, the team will focus on operating it within the next 48 hours. The Space Force chose Firefly and Millennium in 2022 for this mission.
The Space Force’s goal is to establish an enduring responsive space capability by 2026. This would enable them to quickly launch satellites to respond to threats or augment degraded or destroyed systems. It could involve having spare satellites in orbit that are ready to be activated or maneuvered as needed. The Space Force is also exploring partnerships with commercial providers to purchase data during a crisis.
This launch marks Firefly’s third flight for their Alpha rocket, and the company is preparing for upcoming missions for NASA, the National Reconnaissance Office, Lockheed Martin, and other customers. The Space Force is already planning for a third launch, working with the Defense Innovation Unit for an effort called Victus Haze. The focus of this mission will be on end-to-end execution using commercial capabilities.
The successful launch of Victus Nox demonstrates the progress in the nation’s ability to rapidly respond with operational speed to deliver decisive capabilities to warfighters.