Firefly Aerospace successfully launched a satellite for the US Space Force last night on just 24 hours’ notice, in a record-breaking demonstration of rapid launch capabilities for national security missions.
The Space Force gave Firefly launch notice on September 13, which is when the 24-hour clock began ticking. In this window, Firefly managed to complete final launch preparations, update the flight software trajectory, encapsulate the payload created by Millennium Space Systems, and mate it to the Firefly Alpha rocket.
The company launched the Victus Nox mission in the first available window, with Alpha leaving the platform just 27 hours after receiving launch notice.
“Today was an incredible success for the Space Force, Team Firefly and our nation after successfully completing this complex and responsive space mission,” Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace, said in a statement. “Our combined commercial and government team executed the mission with record speed, agility and flexibility, adding critical capability to meet national security needs. »
The mission sets a new record among commercial space companies for a responsive space launch, by a fairly significant margin – the previous record was set in June 2021 by Northrop Grumman at 21 days. It’s worth noting that this is only the third mission in Firefly’s nine-year history.
Millennium Space Systems, a subsidiary of Boeing, also succeeded in its own challenge: As part of the mission, they had 60 hours to transport the spacecraft 165 miles from El Segundo, California, to the space base from Vandenberg and integrate it with Alpha’s payload adapter. . They completed this work in 58 hours.
“The success of Victus Nox marks a cultural shift in our nation’s ability to deter adversary aggression and, when necessary, respond with the operational speed necessary to deliver decisive capabilities to our warfighters,” said Space Systems Command Commander Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein. “This exercise is part of an end-to-end tactically responsive space demonstration that proves that the U.S. Space Force can rapidly integrate capabilities and will respond to aggression when called upon to do so in tactically relevant time frames.”
Space Systems Command, part of the Space Force, is responsible for developing and acquiring space technologies for national security. The Space Force has shown continued interest in purchasing rapid launch capabilities from private industry; for this mission, Firefly received $17.6 million.