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US Space Force plans additional tactically responsive space launches

Firefly Aerospace's Alpha rocket launches the Victus Nox mission on 14 September 2023. (Firefly Aerospace)

The US Space Force (USSF) intends to conduct at least one additional tactically responsive space launch to the two already publicised, following Victus Nox – launched on 14 September 2023 – and the upcoming Victus Haze mission with a third flight, dubbed Victus Sol, USSF Vice Chief of Space Operations General Michael Guetlein said on 19 January at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

β€œBeyond Victus Haze there's Victus Sol, and that takes us into [20]26 and then we'll continue to press the test button,” Gen Guetlein said.

Victus Sol's mission and definitions are as yet publicly unknown. The USSF had not responded to questions at the time of publication.

Victus Nox and the predecessor 2022 mission, TacRL-2, demonstrated that tactically responsive launches were practical, with TacRL-2 shortening the time between payload delivery and launch from a minimum of months to several weeks, and Victus Nox cutting it to roughly 24 hours.

Victus Haze may have similar deadlines to Victus Nox, USSF Lieutenant Colonel MacKenzie Birchenough, materiel leader of Space Safari, told Janes in November 2023, but it is intended to integrate more commercial partners that may only provide one narrow service rather than the entire satellite or launch capability. Contractor selection is scheduled for January, but no contractors have been announced at the time of publication, Lt Col Birchenough said.

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