US Space Force to conduct demonstration mission in Earth orbit

The US Space Force has partnered with two companies to conduct a demonstration mission simulating a response to enemy activity in orbit.

As part of the Victus Haze mission, the Space Force awarded a $32 million contract to Rocket Lab and a $30 million contract to True Anomaly to “test a realistic threat response scenario in outer space.”

Rocket Lab will build and launch its own spacecraft using its Electron rocket, and True Anomaly will build a vehicle capable of rendezvous, maneuvering, and command post. The mission is scheduled to launch in 2025, and each company will be given its own launch and mission profiles.

Once in orbit, the Space Force uses the two craft to simulate scenarios that might be perceived as threatening in space, be it a satellite aimed at destroying a U.S. spacecraft or spying on a U.S. military satellite to gather intelligence.

We recognize a significant opportunity to leverage commercial space industry innovation to counter China as America’s leading threat. VICTUS HAZE will demonstrate, under realistic operational conditions, our ability to respond to irresponsible behavior in orbit.

— Col. Bryon McClain, Space Systems Command’s Space Awareness and Combat Power program manager.

How exactly the cosmic forces will react is still unclear, but you shouldn’t expect something futuristic like Star Wars or Star Trek. Even using a spaceplane to fight enemy aircraft carries a huge risk of creating a cloud of debris that can lead to a chain reaction and wreak havoc in orbit.

Space Force was created in December 2019 to protect US interests in space. This division is responsible for managing space launches, tracking objects in orbit, maintaining global positioning satellites, various weather and communications satellites, and developing space capabilities.

It is still unclear what a real conflict in orbit between several countries might look like. Certainly not as shown in the picture – space is too large for such maneuvers.

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