Rocket Lab, True Anomaly win contracts for US military’s Victus Haze project

The project is unfolding amid concerns about threats to U.S. satellites from adversaries’ counter-space weapons.
(Getty Images)

Two vendors were tapped for an effort to demonstrate “tactically responsive” space capabilities under operationally realistic conditions, the Pentagon announced Thursday.

The Defense Innovation Unit awarded a $32 million contract to Rocket Lab’s national security subsidiary, and SpaceWERX will award a $30 million deal to Colorado-based startup True Anomaly to provide technologies for the Victus Haze project, according to a release from Space Systems Command.

The U.S. military is looking for industry to demonstrate the ability to deploy a space vehicle within 24 hours of tasking and have the system ready for operations in less than 48 hours after it reaches the intended orbit.

Victus Haze is unfolding amid concerns about threats to U.S. satellites and their support systems from adversaries’ counter-space weapons — such as anti-satellite missiles, directed energy systems, electronic warfare and cyber attacks — as well as other spacecraft and debris.


The initiative also comes as the U.S. military is looking to the commercial sector for tech that could aid its missions.

DIU, headquartered in Silicon Valley, is partnering with the Space Safari acquisition program office and SpaceWERX on the effort.

“The commercial space industry is advancing at an unprecedented pace that will provide the Space Force additional options to quickly respond to adversary aggression,” Lt. Col. MacKenzie Birchenough, Space Systems Command’s materiel leader for Space Safari, said in a statement.

The announcement about the contract awards came a day after the Space Force unveiled its new Commercial Space Strategy.

The two vendors tapped for Victus Haze will help prove out capabilities that could be used for future tactically responsive space operations “in direct support of urgent Combatant Command on-orbit needs,” Birchenough said.


Rocket Lab and True Anomaly “will both 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. Once the build phase is completed the mission will enter several successive phases to include hot standby, activation, alert and launch phases. While this is a coordinated demonstration, each vendor will be given unique launch and mission profiles,” according to the SSC release. “Both SVs will quickly begin operations after reaching orbit. Once on orbit, the operations teams will conduct a variety of scenarios to demonstrate [space domain awareness] and characterization capabilities.”

Rocket Lab will put its system into orbit using the company’s Electron reusable small launch platform launched from Wallops Island, Virginia or Mahia, New Zealand. True Anomaly’s vehicle will launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, or Vandenberg Space Force Base in California via a “rapid rideshare,” per the release.

“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, adding that Victus Haze “will demonstrate, under operationally realistic conditions, our ability to respond to irresponsible behavior on orbit.”

Space Safari aims to begin delivering more advanced tactically responsive space capabilities for the joint force by 2026, according to DIU.

Jon Harper

Written by Jon Harper

Jon Harper is Managing Editor of DefenseScoop, the Scoop News Group’s online publication focused on the Pentagon and its pursuit of new capabilities. He leads an award-winning team of journalists in providing breaking news and in-depth analysis on military technology and the ways in which it is shaping how the Defense Department operates and modernizes. You can also follow him on X (the social media platform formerly known as Twitter) @Jon_Harper_

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