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US Force To Perform World’s First Military Exercise In Space

The US Space Force on April 11 announced that it is partnering with private space companies Rocket Lab and True Anomaly for a military on-orbit demonstration.

The Victus Haze Tactically Responsive Space (TacRS) mission will demonstrate how the military would counter “on-orbit aggression.” It is a first-of-its-kind mission that reflects ongoing military escalation in the space domain.

The US Space Force’s Victus Haze

During the mission, a spacecraft built and launched by Rocket Lab will chase down a satellite made by True Anomaly. The Rocket Lab spacecraft will rendezvous with True Anomaly’s satellite and capture close-up images.

The US Space Force awarded Rocket Lab a $32 million contract, and it gave True Anomaly a slightly lower $30 million contract.

Both firms will essentially simulate a “realistic threat response scenario in an on-orbit space domain awareness demonstration called Victus Haze,” the Space Force’s Space Systems Command explained in a press statement.

The US Space Force aims to have a response strategy ready for a scenario in which an adversary approaches one of its satellites. The strategy will focus on the rapid deployment of satellites that can counter threats to on-orbit military assets. As such, Rocket Lab will be on standby for a short-notice launch. The exercise is expected to take place next year.

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A “window of vulnerability” in space

The new mission announcement comes shortly after a US general warned of a “window of vulnerability” in space.

Gen. Stephen Whiting, commander of US Space Command, recently told the Senate Armed Services Committee that China and Russia have “transformed space into a contested warfighting domain.”

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is “moving breathtakingly fast in space,” he told US lawmakers. “America must rapidly increase the timeliness, quality and quantity of our critical national space and missile defense systems to match China’s speed and maintain our advantage.”

The US would argue that Victus Haze is a counter-measure against Russian and Chinese military escalation. However, the world’s big space powers are predictably pointing their fingers at each other, with China and Russia blaming the US for escalation.

In practice, every military space mission goes against the principles set out in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty – a foundational document for international space law. With companies like SpaceX’s Starlink serving as a valuable military asset in Ukraine, we have seemingly entered a new era where efforts to maintain space as a demilitarized domain are all but abandoned.

Source: IE

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