Firefly Aerospace Successfully Launches U.S. Space Force VICTUS NOX Responsive Space Mission with 24-Hour Notice
16 September 2023
Firefly Aerospace, a comprehensive space transportation firm, has proudly announced the successful launch of its Alpha rocket and the deployment of the VICTUS NOX spacecraft. This remarkable achievement followed a mere 24-hour notice to complete final payload operations and mission preparations. This mission, orchestrated in collaboration with the U.S. Space Force Space Systems Command's (SSC) Space Safari Program Office and in partnership with the Rocket Systems Launch Program, represents a significant leap forward in the nation's capacity to swiftly address on-orbit requirements in times of conflict or national security concerns.
Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace, expressed the magnitude of this achievement, stating, "Today was an incredible success for the Space Force, the Firefly team, and our nation after nailing this complex responsive space mission. Our combined commercial and government team executed the mission with record speed, agility, and flexibility, adding a critical capability to address national security needs."
Upon receiving launch instructions and orbital requirements from the U.S. Space Force, Firefly diligently completed all final launch preparations within 24 hours, including updates to trajectory software, payload encapsulation, transportation to the launch pad, mating with the Alpha rocket, and fueling. Alpha then took off at the earliest available window, just 27 hours after receiving the launch orders.
The flight commenced with a smooth countdown and liftoff at 7:28 p.m. PDT on September 14th, progressing seamlessly through each stage, including stage one main engine cutoff (MECO), stage separation, and stage two ignition. Alpha subsequently deployed the Millennium Space Systems satellite into the desired low Earth orbit. Firefly also successfully conducted testing involving a relight of Alpha's stage two and targeted re-entry.
Adam Oakes, VP of Launch Vehicles at Firefly Aerospace, expressed his pride in the team, emphasizing that this mission further validates Firefly's dedication to becoming a leading responsive launch provider for both government and commercial clients. Col. Bryon McClain, Program Executive Officer for the Space Domain Awareness and Combat Power directorate, lauded the success of the VICTUS NOX mission as a pivotal aspect of the United States' TacRS capability and highlighted its utility for the warfighter. He noted the essential role played by the Space Safari team and industry partners in rapidly responding to urgent on-orbit needs.