Tuesday, May 21, 2024

U.S. Space Force awards contracts for VICTUS HAZE mission

The United States Space Force (USSF) is partnering with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) and SpaceWERX to award contracts to two space industry vendors for an on-orbit space domain awareness (SDA) demonstration called VICTUS HAZE.

The vendors will be responsible for exercising a realistic threat response scenario. Rocket Lab National Security has been awarded a $32 million contract by DIU, while SpaceWERX will be awarding a contract to True Anomaly. The total cost of the project is $60 million, with $30 million being funded by the government and the rest being leveraged by True Anomaly from private capital.

“The commercial space industry is advancing at an unprecedented pace that will provide the Space Force additional options to quickly respond to adversary aggression,” said Lt. Col. MacKenzie Birchenough, SSC’s materiel leader for Space Safari. “VICTUS HAZE will demonstrate and prove capabilities to be used for future TacRS operations in direct support of urgent Combatant Command on-orbit needs.”

VICTUS HAZE is utilizing commercially developed products to provide more capable options for future TacRS operations. They demonstrated a multi-vehicle operation, which could be useful for on-orbit needs in the future. Additionally, VICTUS HAZE will help develop tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) for a quick response to on-orbit threats.

According to Col. Bryon McClain, program executive officer for Space Domain Awareness and Combat Power at SSC, there is a significant opportunity to counter China as America’s pacing threat by leveraging the innovations of the commercial space industry. The United States has the most innovative space industry globally, and VICTUS HAZE aims to demonstrate, under realistic conditions, its ability to respond to irresponsible behavior in orbit.

True Anomaly and Rocket Lab will be demonstrating their capabilities to build space vehicles that are capable of rendezvous and proximity operations, along with command and control centers. They aim to complete the build phase by fall 2025, following which the mission will enter several successive phases such as hot standby, activation, alert, and launch. The demonstration will be coordinated, but each vendor will have unique launch and mission profiles.

True Anomaly’s space vehicle will launch from either Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida or Vandenberg Space Force Base in California via a rapid rideshare. On the other hand, Rocket Lab will launch via their Electron launch vehicle from either Mahia, New Zealand, or Wallops Island, Virginia. Once in orbit, both space vehicles will begin operations quickly, and the operations teams will conduct a variety of scenarios to demonstrate SDA and characterization capabilities.

VICTUS HAZE is a complex project involving multiple organizations within the Department of Defense. The DIU is leading the effort, leveraging its commercial market expertise and OT Authority to rapidly award contracts. Space Safari is also involved in the project, providing programmatic oversight and executing the mission.

Additionally, SpaceWERX is providing technical and commercial evaluation assistance for True Anomaly, which will bring valuable mission capabilities to the project. As VICTUS HAZE moves forward, many partners will be playing critical roles in this important Space Force demonstration.

VICTUS HAZE is a cutting-edge project that utilizes advanced commercial products to enhance operational missions for the TacRS. The goal is to prepare the United States Space Force to conduct rapid operations in response to any aggression in orbit.

The Space Systems Command is responsible for acquiring, developing, and delivering resilient capabilities to protect national strategic advantage in space. They work alongside industry, government agencies, academic and allied organizations to outpace emerging threats and make the world a better place for tomorrow.