Electron lifts off from Launch Complex 2 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia Jan. 24. The mission was Rocket Lab’s first launch from US soil. (Brady Kenniston)

SPACE SYMPOSIUM 2024 — The Space Force’s Space Systems Command today announced two industry vendors will receive contracts for the quick-launch Victus Haze program, worth a combined $62 million.

Rocket Lab National Security was awarded a $32 million contract through the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit, while True Anomaly was awarded $30 million through the SpaceWERX office. Interestingly, the release adds that True Anomaly “will leverage $30 million of internal private capital” for the effort.

Victus Haze is the second iteration of the Space Force’s Tactically Responsive Space-3 (TacRS-3) mission to launch a prototype satellite within 24 hours of a “go” order, but also is designed to quickly perform an up-close on-orbit inspection of a (simulated) threatening spacecraft.

Senior Space Force officials have praised the successful September Victus Nox demonstration, which involved Firefly Aerospace’s launcher and a space vehicle developed by Boeing’s Millennium Space Systems, as a game-changer for the service in future great power competition.

“We recognize the significant opportunity to leverage the commercial space industry’s innovations to counter China as America’s pacing threat,” Col. Bryon McClain, SSC’s program executive officer for Space Domain Awareness and Combat Power, said in a statement. “The United States has the most innovative space industry in the world. VICTUS HAZE will demonstrate, under operationally realistic conditions, our ability to respond to irresponsible behavior on orbit.”

As part of the mission set, the two companies will “demonstrate their ability to build rendezvous and proximity operation (RPO) capable space vehicles (SVs) and command and control centers with a delivery target no later than fall 2025,” the statement reads. Each vendor will be “given unique launch and mission profiles.”

True Anomaly will launch from either Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida or Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, while Rocket Lab will launch via their Electron launch vehicle from either Mahia, New Zealand or Wallops Island, Virg.

Breaking Defense’s Theresa Hitchens contributed to this report.