Firefly Aerospace, an end-to-end space transportation company, today announced the company successfully launched its Alpha rocket and deployed the VICTUS NOX spacecraft following a 24-hour notice to complete final payload operations and mission preparations. Led by U.S. Space Force Space Systems Command’s (SSC) Space Safari Program Office and in close partnership with the Rocket Systems Launch Program, the mission advances the nation’s capability to rapidly respond to on-orbit needs during a conflict or in response to a national security threat. Upon receiving the notice to launch and orbit requirements from the U.S. Space Force, Firefly completed all final launch preparations, including trajectory software updates, payload encapsulation, transport to the launch pad, mating to Alpha, and fueling, within 24 hours. Alpha then launched at the first available window, 27 hours after receipt of launch orders.
“I’m incredibly proud of this team for completing these critical mission milestones and successfully launching in a matter of hours rather than weeks or months in a typical operation. As our third flight, this mission further validates Firefly’s technology rigor, passion, and dedication that’s required to prevail as the leading responsive launch provider for both government and commercial customers,” said Adam Oakes, VP of Launch Vehicles at Firefly Aerospace.
“The success of the VICTUS NOX mission not only proves a key aspect of the United States’ TacRS capability but provides true utility to the warfighter. Working closely with our Assured Access to Space team and industry partners, the Space Safari team continues to demonstrate how TacRS enables us to quickly respond to urgent on-orbit needs,” said Col. Bryon McClain, Program Executive Officer for the Space Domain Awareness and Combat Power directorate, which oversees SSC’s Space Safari program office.
“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,” said Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace.
The flight began with a nominal countdown and liftoff at 7:28 p.m. PDT on September 14 and progressed seamlessly through each stage of flight, including stage one main engine cutoff (MECO), stage separation, and stage two ignition. Alpha then deployed the Millennium Space Systems satellite at the target destination in low Earth orbit. Firefly also successfully tested an Alpha stage two relight and targeted re-entry. Building on today’s success, Firefly is ramping up Alpha production and testing for multiple upcoming launches, including missions in support of Lockheed Martin, NASA, the NRO, and more. Firefly Aerospace is an end-to-end space transportation company with launch, lunar, and on-orbit services. Headquartered in central Texas, Firefly is a portfolio company of AE Industrial Partners (“AEI”) focused on delivering responsive, reliable, and affordable space access for government and commercial customers. Firefly’s small- to medium-lift launch vehicles, lunar landers, and orbital vehicles provide the space industry with a single source for missions from low Earth orbit to the surface of the Moon and beyond.