Space Systems Command Successfully Launches VICTUS NOX for U.S Space Force: Sets New Tactically Responsive Space Record

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kadielle Shaw
  • Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs

In a major advancement of Tactically Responsive Space (TacRS) capabilities, Space Systems Command (SSC) and Firefly Aerospace successfully encapsulated a Millennium Space Systems-built space vehicle, mated it to Firefly’s Alpha launch vehicle, and completed all final launch preparations in 24 hours.

The mission, known as VICTUS NOX, successfully lifted off Sept. 14 at 7:28 p.m. PDT from Space Launch Complex 2 West (SLC-2W) at Vandenberg Space Force Base. Liftoff took place at the first available launch window, 27 hours after receipt of launch orders, setting a new record for responsive space launch.

“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.”

Led by SSC’s Space Safari Program Office and in partnership with SSC’s Rocket Systems Launch Program, VICTUS NOX aims to reduce timelines throughout every aspect of a space mission, from acquisition through on-orbit operations.

Less than a year after awarding contracts to Millenium Space Systems and Firefly Aerospace, the teams entered a “hot standby” phase, awaiting notification from Space Force leadership to proceed. Upon activation, the space vehicle was transported 165 miles from Millenium’s El Segundo facility to Vandenberg Space Force Base where it was tested, fueled, and mated to the launch adapter in just under 58 hours, significantly faster than the typical timeline of weeks or months. With the launch time, date and final orbital parameters unknown, the team then stood on alert, awaiting the call to launch.

Now on orbit, the next objective is to initialize the space vehicle and begin operations in under 48 hours.

“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. “While space has been viewed as a strategic theater for a long time, the advancement of TacRS capabilities represents a paradigm shift for the National Security Space enterprise. We are incredibly proud of the entire VICTUS NOX team for this huge accomplishment.”

The previous responsive space launch record was 21 days, set on June 13, 2021, with SSC’s launch of TacRL-2. VICTUS NOX and TacRL-2 are the first two operational demonstrations led by SSC’s Space Safari Program Office, which is responsible for responding to urgent on-orbit needs, to include acquiring, integrating, and executing TacRS capabilities. 

Space Systems Command is the U.S. Space Force’s field command responsible for acquiring and delivering resilient war fighting capabilities to protect our nation’s strategic advantage in and from space. SSC manages a $15 billion space acquisition budget for the DoD and works in partnership with joint forces, industry, government agencies, academic and allied organizations to accelerate innovation and outpace emerging threats. Our actions today are making the world a better space for tomorrow.