Space Force to hold annual Tactically Responsive Space demos

Space Force to hold annual Tactically Responsive Space demos

The Space Force said it will develop an annual cadence of Tactically Responsive Space missions to refine its ability to quickly respond to real-time threats.

Since 2021, the service has conducted two responsive space missions, and it’s planning a third in 2025. A demonstration last September, dubbed Victus Nox, showed that the service could work with satellite and launch companies to deliver a spacecraft in a matter of months and launch it with just 27 hours of notice.

The goal is to start conducting operational missions as soon as 2026, but Lt. Gen. Phillip Garrant, head of the Space Force’s acquisition arm Space Systems Command, said the service expects to continue launching what he called Victus series demonstrations.

“The idea is agility and speed,” he said May 21 at a virtual Mitchell Institute event. “Adversaries are continuing to exhibit poor behavior. Victus gives us an opportunity to have a rapid response and show resolve and commitment to the world that we can address those types of threats.”

The Space Force defines tactically responsive space as the ability to react quickly to the threats that come from operating in an increasingly congested and adversarial space environment. That could mean launching satellites on short notice, maneuvering a pre-positioned, spare spacecraft to augment a degraded system or buying data from a commercial partner during a crisis.

Threat response is central to the Space Force’s 2025 demonstration, Victus Haze. The Space Force wants to achieve similar satellite delivery and launch timelines to its previous missions, but this time, satellites will be required to maneuver from a threat in space.

Congress has been a strong supporter of these efforts and has also pushed the service to move quickly to develop a Tactically Responsive Space posture. In its version of fiscal 2025 defense policy legislation, the House Armed Services Committee called on the Space Force to develop more options for fielding on-orbit spares, or pre-positioned spacecraft, that could be accessed as a backup capability if needed.

“The committee is aware that the space domain is contested, and countries such as Russia and China continue to develop and deploy threats on-orbit to degrade and destroy U.S. national security satellites,” lawmakers said. “The committee notes that multiple Department officials have testified that the United States is currently not able to adequately defend national security systems on orbit from these types of threats.”

The draft bill calls for the Space Force to conduct a market survey of traditional defense companies and smaller firms to determine what capabilities they can provide and on what timelines. The survey should also consider whether industry can provide an “orbital testbed facility” where the service could test, refine and demonstrate the utility of these types of satellites.

Courtney Albon is C4ISRNET’s space and emerging technology reporter. She has covered the U.S. military since 2012, with a focus on the Air Force and Space Force. She has reported on some of the Defense Department’s most significant acquisition, budget and policy challenges.

Read the full article here