FireFly Aerospace and payload provider Millenium Space Systems have entered a 6 month “hot standby phase” for the Victus Nox mission out of Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
During the next 6 months, both Firefly and Millenium could receive notice from the United States Space Force at any moment, which will kick off a series of events culminating in the launch of the Alpha launch vehicle.
The Firefly team now stands ready for the 24-hour callup for the @SpaceForceDoD #VICTUSNOX responsive space mission. We’ve officially entered the “hot standby phase” and wait to receive the notice to launch and final orbit requirements. pic.twitter.com/ApLAhWG8Nv
— Firefly Aerospace (@Firefly_Space) August 30, 2023
When that notice is received Millenium will have 60 hours to transport the payload to Vandenberg Space Force Base, fuel the payload for its stay in orbit, and integrate it onto the payload adapter.
Once that portion is complete, Firefly will await word from the Space Force of the payload orbital requirements, and once that’s received, they are given 24 hours to enclose the payload into the fairing, attach it to the Alpha rocket first stage, and move it to the launch pad. Once at the pad, teams will connect fueling lines and power links as they progress toward the launch.
This won’t be the first run for Firefly and Millenium, as they have completed multiple rehearsals in preparation for this mission using a mockup satellite.
The Victus Nox mission is a Tactically Responsive Space mission led by Space Systems Command’s (SSC) Space Safari Program Office.
This will be the 3rd flight for Firefly’s Alpha rocket. The rocket has a bit of a mixed record, as the first flight failed after one of its 4 Reaver engines shut down 15 seconds after liftoff. With the loss of that engine, the vehicle was unable to maintain control, then started to tumble out of control and was blown up by the flight termination system. Debris from the explosion scattered over a wide area around the launch site as the lightweight carbon fiber composite body pieces floated to the ground.
The 2nd flight for Alpha was a partial success as the payloads were deployed to orbit. However, it was a lower orbit than planned, and all of the payloads de-orbited just days later. Firefly claims the mission was a success from their point of view.