Electron launch vehicle. Credits: Rocket Lab/Brady Kenniston

Rocket Lab Selected To Build And Launch Victus Haze Mission For The US Space Force

The US Space Force has awarded a $32 million contract to Rocket Lab to design, build and launch a spacecraft for a Tactically Responsive Space (TacRS) Mission

On April 11, 2024, Rocket Lab announced that it had been awarded by the USSF Space System Command (SSC) a $32 million contract to deliver the Victus Haze mission. The US company will design, build, and launch a rendezvous proximity operation (RPO) capable spacecraft. To do so Rocket Lab will configure a Pioneer class spacecraft bus to meet the unique requirements of the mission.

Electron on the launch pad. Credits: Rocket Lab/Brady Kenniston
Electron on the launch pad. Credits: Rocket Lab/Brady Kenniston

Victus Haze is a Tactically Responsive Space (TacRS) mission designed to recreate a realistic scenario, demonstrating on-orbit space domain awareness (SDA) capabilities in response to a threat in space.

The startup True Anomaly will also take part in the mission, delivering its Jackal spacecraft. The Colorado-based company was awarded $30 million from the SSC. True Anomaly launched their first two Jackal satellites on March 4, on board SpaceX’s Transporter-10 rideshare mission.


The mission

The payload is set to be delivered in 2025. The Electron rocket will liftoff from Launch Complex 1, in New Zealand, or from Launch Complex 2 at Wallops Flight Facility.

When the spacecraft build is complete, Rocket Lab will enter into a Hot Standby Phase, waiting for the notice from the US Space Force. The company will then have to launch the two satellites into a target orbit, in the shortest possible time. Once in orbit, the spacecraft will conduct various dynamic space operations to demonstrate SDA characterization capabilities. Given the classified nature of the mission, the reciprocal roles of the two spacecraft have not been specified.

Electron liftoff carrying "Four Of A Kind" mission. Credits: Rocket Lab
Electron liftoff. Credits: Rocket Lab

Victus Haze follows the previous Victus Nox, conducted by Firefly. These types of missions highlight the US Space Force’s recent efforts to expedite the development of key military space capabilities to defend the interests of the United States and its allies. Specifically, the goal is to consolidate and enhance space systems and procedures to respond quickly to increasing foreign threats in space.

Due to growing geopolitical tensions, a new race for rearmament, defense, and control of Earth’s orbits is consolidating. For example, last February, there was significant concern over a US intelligence report, warning about the development and possible deployment of Russian weapons capable of threatening American satellites. Therefore, we are destined to see an expansion of these types of capabilities by nations, particularly by major space powers.

Firefly Alpha FLTA003 take off for the Victus Nox mission. Credits: Firefly Aerospace.
Firefly Alpha take off for the Victus Nox mission. Credits: Firefly Aerospace

Back in September 2023, Firefly successfully launched the Victus Nox mission in record time. The company was able to integrate the payload and get ready for liftoff in less than 58 hours. The Alpha rocket carried a classified Millennium Space’ small satellite.


Rocket Lab: a reliable asset for the Space Force

Victus Haze is an important addition to an already significant series of missions developed by the USSF in collaboration with Rocket Lab. A few days ago the company was awarded a $14 million task order to launch the Space Tes Program-30 (STP-S30) mission. In January the Space Development Agency selected them to produce 18 Tranche 2 Transport Layer-Beta Data Transport Satellites (T2TL – Beta), under a $515 million contract.

“VICTUS HAZE builds on Rocket Lab’s proven track record of delivering launch and spacecraft solutions that enable advanced missions on accelerated timelines.”

— Peter Beck, CEO at Rocket Lab


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Francesco Sebastiano Moro

Francesco Sebastiano Moro

Aerospace engineering student at University of Padua, passionate of space and aerospace sector.

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