The now three-year-old United States Space Force (USSF) is apparently taking the challenges of space with an aggressive sense of purpose. It is presently preparing for a mission to be undertaken for the first time in the not too distant future that will develop its capability to meet some of the real challenges that could potentially be a part of a future conflict that would include the environment of space.
This mission will be conducted in partnership with two companies, Firefly Aerospace and Millennium Space Systems. The mission is called “Victor Nox,” a Latin phrase which translates to “Conquer the Night.” Its goal is to test the USSF’s capability to replace a damaged satellite within a 24-hour time frame. The mission is based on the reality that at present, Russia, China, and other nations have demonstrated the ability to either destroy orbiting satellites or to knock them out of orbit. If such an action were to take place during a conflict, it could potentially blind Pentagon leaders’ ability to see enemy movements, discern areas of concern, or observe the situational conditions of U.S. troops.
If such an event were to happen during a conflict, there would be a real need to be able to replace a destroyed or damaged satellite as quickly as possible. The Victor Nox mission, then, is going to test the ability of the USSF and its partners, Firefly Aerospace and Millennium Space Systems, to carry out such a replacement mission. Firefly Aerospace builds the rockets for this purpose, and Millennium Space Systems builds the satellites.
The date for the mission has not been made public as yet. It is thought that the USSF is purposely withholding that information in order not to tip off Millennium and Firefly in advance in an effort to make the test as close to reality as possible. If, God forbid, a real conflict were to arise at the magnitude that would include space, this ability to replace satellites within a 24-hour time frame would be critical.
When the mission does take place, it will be the first time ever that a ground-based rocket delivers a satellite payload into space directly for such a purpose. Firefly Aerospace says it is ready whenever it gets the call. They tweeted recently that, “Our next launch, FLTA003, will support the @SpaceForceDoD responsive space mission, Victor Nox.”
“We’re in the final integration of our Alpha rocket and will soon stand ready for the 24-hour call-up. We’re honored to work with the incredible team! #PartnerInSpace.”
It is the hope of every sane person on the planet that a future war that would include the realms of space would never become a reality. It is one thing to imagine such things, to make movies, or to write entertaining and gripping science fiction novels about such things, but to contemplate the potential of such things in real terms is to enter into the realm of nightmares. That we have an entire new branch of the military whose stated mission is to prepare for such a possibility is troubling enough. But the reality is that China and Russia have already tested the borders and have actually targeted and destroyed old satellites of their own, proving their ability to do so. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to imagine that our military can do it too.
We can all honestly and earnestly pray that this “brave new world” of warfare should never come to fruition. But in a world that has yet to mature beyond the primitive instinct for war, the old maxim, sadly, still applies: “The surest way to prevent war is to be prepared to win one.” Semper Supra, or Always Above (USSF motto).