VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. – Space Systems Command and Firefly Aerospace successfully launched a Millennium Space Systems-constructed vehicle attached to Firefly's Alpha launch vehicle from Vandenberg Space Force Base at 7:28 p.m. on Thursday.
The mission, known as VICTUS NOX, completed its final launch preparations only 27 hours after receipt of launch orders, setting a new record for responsive space launches detail Space Systems Command.
“The success of VICTUX NOX marks a culture shift in our nation’s ability to deter adversary aggression and, when required, respond with the operational speed necessary to deliver decisive capabilities to our warfighters,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein, commander of Space Systems Command. “This exercise is part of an end-to-end Tactically Responsive Space demonstration which proves the United States Space Force can rapidly integrate capabilities and will respond to aggression when called to do so on tactically relevant timelines.”
In less than a year after awarding contracts to Millenium Space Systems and Firefly Aerospace, the teams entered and remained in a 'hot standby' phase, awaiting for Space Force leadership go ahead.
Upon activation, the space vehicle was transported 165 miles from Millenium's El Segundo facilty to Vandenberg Space Force Base where it was tested, fueled, and mated to the launch adapter in just 58 hours, much shorter than the typical timeline of weeks or even months detail Space Systems Command.
The previous responsive space launch record was 21 days, set on Jun. 13, 2021, with Space Systems Command's launch of TacRL-2. The VICTUS NOX and TacRL-2 are the first two operational demonstrations led by Space Systems Command's Space Safari Program Office.
“Congratulations to the entire team for the successful launch into space of the Victus Nox mission from Vandenberg Space Force Base last night,” stated U. S. Senator Dianne Feinstein in a press release after the expedited launch. “The Victus Nox mission represents an important step in our nation’s expanding capabilities in space. The whole team, Millennium, Firefly, Space Force and Vandenberg demonstrated a new capability of our nation to respond to a crisis in space in a very short window – something that would’ve been deemed impossible just a few years ago... I’m especially proud of the role all the California-based teams played in this historic mission. In this year’s Senate Defense Appropriations process, I fought for a new satellite payload processing facility which will significantly expand the number of launches that can take place out of Vandenberg in the near future. California continues to play a leading role in our nation’s rapidly expanding space industry.”
According to Space Systems Command, the next objective is to initialize the space vehicle and begin operations even faster next time, under 48 hours is the next objective.
“We are thrilled with tonight’s successful launch. This mission highlights significant progress towards meeting emerging challenges in space,” said Lt. Col. MacKenzie Birchenough, Space Safari materiel leader.