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Firefly Aerospace launches Victus Nox tactically responsive space mission

Firefly Aerospace's Alpha rocket launches the Victus Nox mission on 14 September. (Firefly Aerospace)

Firefly Aerospace launched an Alpha rocket on a Tactically Responsive Space (TacRS) mission from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, sending into orbit a Millennium Space Systems-built satellite on 14 September. The US Space Force (USSF), which sponsored the mission, called it Victus Nox.

β€œI'm incredibly proud of this team for completing these critical mission milestones and successfully launching in a matter of hours rather than weeks or months in a typical operation,” Adam Oakes, vice-president of launch vehicles at Firefly Aerospace, said in a statement.

Although little is publicly known about the satellite, it is intended to perform space situational awareness (SSA) tasks, examining other objects in orbit. The TacRS programme required that the satellite complete checks and begin operations within 48 hours of launch, a task Millennium Space Systems said was completed in 37 hours.

β€œWhat made Victus Nox more exciting than usual was getting the satellite online in such a rapid timeline, and we were able to do that in 37 hours,” said Andrew Chau, Victus Nox programme manager at Millennium Space Systems, in a statement.

TacRS is a joint USSF and Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) initiative to shorten launch times. Whereas launches and orbits are typically planned years ahead of time, for the TacRS launch, Firefly Aerospace was given a standby notice a month ahead of launch and provided the desired orbital plane 24 hours before the desired launch time. Firefly Aerospace launched the Alpha rocket 27 hours after notification, in what the company described as the first available launch window to reach the desired orbit.

On 24 August DIU released a solicitation for the next TacRS mission, dubbed Victus Haze.

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