Space Force's 'Victus Nox' enters 'hot standby' phase

In a bid to develop a "tactically responsive" mechanism for emergency space asset delivery, Space Force has officially escalated its "Victus Nox" mission to a "hot standby" phase.
Christopher McFadden
"Victus Nox" is a very ambitious mission.

Firefly Space 

The United States Space Force has officially put its "Victus Nox" suppliers on "hot standby" for an anticipated short-notice space launch within the coming months, reports Defense News.

Meaning "conquer the light" "Victus Nox" is an initiative designed to create space assets and deliver them into orbit in rapid time. With the alert, current suppliers are to prepare for such a space mission ready for an as-yet undisclosed 24-hour launch window.

Conquer the night

Space Force's current suppliers, Millennium Space Systems, a subsidiary of Boeing, and Firefly Aerospace, the mission's launch provider, have been preparing for this endeavor since September of 2022. Firefly is operating under a $17.6 million contract, while Millennium Space Systems has chosen not to disclose the value of its award.

Firefly released a statement on August 30 stating that the companies are currently in a "hot standby" phase, which means that the Space Force may request the satellite and rocket for launch at any point within the next six months.

“Challenging missions like this is where Firefly excels, and we are extremely humbled and proud to provide the U.S. Space Force and the nation with the critical capability to launch on-demand in support of national security,” said Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace. “Together with our mission partners, we’ll be setting a new standard, proving nominal launch operations can be completed in a matter of hours rather than weeks to months," he added.

Once the mission is a "go," the first notification will be sent to Millennium Space Systems, giving them 60 hours to transport their satellite to Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, fuel the spacecraft, and attach it to Firefly's Alpha rocket's payload adapter. Then, 24 hours before the launch, Space Force will contact Firefly to complete the final pre-launch preparations, which involve connecting the payload to their vehicle.

After reaching orbit, the company must make initial contact with the satellite within two days. The satellite will then begin performing its space domain awareness mission. The service's intent for "Victus Nox" is to mimic the operational conditions under which it would use the Tactically Responsive Space capability. As such, limited details on timing and a rapid delivery plan have been provided.

By 2026, the Space Force hopes to establish a reliable and agile space capability to efficiently launch satellites into space to counteract potential threats or supplement a damaged or non-functional system. This may involve having an additional satellite in orbit that can be activated or repositioned as required, partnering with commercial entities to acquire data during an emergency, or having a satellite on standby on the ground.

“The U.S.’s ability to rapidly respond to on-orbit needs is critical to our national defense, particularly in today’s evolving space environment,” said Lieutenant Colonel MacKenzie Birchenough, Materiel Leader for Space Safari. “The accelerated build time the team demonstrated for VICTUS NOX, combined with the demanding launch and on-orbit goals, exemplifies our strong commitment to preserving our nation’s dominance and ability to freely operate in the space domain," he added.

Two of three

This is the second "tactically responsive mission" developed by the Space Force. The first mission was flown in 2021 using a Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket. The Space Force plans a third launch and will work with the Defense Innovation Unit. The upcoming "Victus Haze" mission will utilize commercial capabilities for end-to-end execution. DIU made this announcement on August 24. Contracts for this will be announced sometime in the Fall of this year.

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board