US Space Force picks Rocket Lab for 2025 Victus Haze space domain awareness mission

a black and white rocket lifts off under a sunny blue sky
A Rocket Lab rocket launches from the company's Launch Complex 1 on April 24th, 2024. (Image credit: Rocket Lab)

The continued push for space domain awareness comes with contracts between the U.S. Space Force and space services companies to create missions that will align with national security needs. 

Earlier this month, Rocket Lab announced a $32 million contract with Space Systems Command (SSC), an organization within the U.S. Space Force responsible for the service's development and acquisition of new space technologies and capabilities. The contract is to develop a spacecraft and command and control center for the VICTUS HAZE Tactically Responsive Space (TacRS) mission that aims to quicken the pace of launches deemed important for national security in order to more rapidly respond to "future urgent on-orbit needs." 

The goal of this demonstration mission would put to the test the ability of the military's capacity to quickly position satellites in space to respond to threats and investigate suspicious objects.

Related: Startup True Anomaly snags $100 million for space security work

"It's an honor to be selected by the Space Systems Command to partner in delivering the VICTUS HAZE mission and demonstrate the kind of advanced tactically responsive capabilities critical to evolving national security needs," Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and CEO, said in a statement

"VICTUS HAZE builds on Rocket Lab's proven track record of delivering launch and spacecraft solutions that enable advanced missions on accelerated timelines. The ability to design, build, launch and operate a spacecraft within one streamlined team is rare and will deliver unparalleled speed and value to the nation. We're excited to take TacRS to the next level," Beck added.

Rocket Lab will design and build a rendezvous proximity operation (RPO) capable spacecraft which will be slated for launch in 2025. Once given the go ahead, Rocket Lab will send its spacecraft into a target orbit where it will team up with a spacecraft being built by True Anomaly, which was also awarded a contract for $30 million. Together, the pair will undergo an exercise that will showcase a realistic threat-response synopsis and serve as an example of on-orbit space domain awareness.

"True Anomaly is proud to partner with Space Systems Command to demonstrate Tactically Responsive Space capabilities in peacetime to ensure the U.S., its allies, and partners are prepared to respond in the event of a real or perceived on-orbit threat," Even Rogers, True Anomaly CEO & Co-Founder said in a release. "The space domain is one of the most challenging environments in which to test and train, and we applaud the service and Congress for their dedication to the TacRS mission set, which is increasingly necessary for deterrence, space domain awareness, and dynamic space operations."

This is not the first time Rocket Lab has supported the U.S. Space Force programs. The list of previous U.S. national security launches includes a successful launch of the Space Test Program's Monolith satellite on Electron in 2021; a newly-announced $14.49 million contract to launch the SSC's STP-30 mission on Electron within the next two years; and a $24.35 million contract with the SSC for the development of the Neutron launch vehicle's upper stage

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Meredith Garofalo
Contributing Writer

Meredith is a regional Murrow award-winning Certified Broadcast Meteorologist and science/space correspondent. She most recently was a Freelance Meteorologist for NY 1 in New York City & the 19 First Alert Weather Team in Cleveland. A self-described "Rocket Girl," Meredith's personal and professional work has drawn recognition over the last decade, including the inaugural Valparaiso University Alumni Association First Decade Achievement Award, two special reports in News 12's Climate Special "Saving Our Shores" that won a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award, multiple Fair Media Council Folio & Press Club of Long Island awards for meteorology & reporting, and a Long Island Business News & NYC TV Week "40 Under 40" Award.