Texas-based small launch company Firefly Aerospace jumpstarted its 2023 campaign with the launch of FLTA003 — the third flight of its Alpha launch vehicle — as part of a dedicated mission for the U.S. Space Force (USSF). Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 2 West (SLC-2W) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California happened on Thursday, Sept. 14 at roughly 7:27 PM PDT (02:27 UTC on Friday, Sept. 15). The mission was successful.
The mission — colloquially known as VICTUS NOX, which translates to “conquer the night” in Latin — served as a demonstration of the United States’ capability to quickly place a satellite in orbit in response to a national security threat, if the need ever arises. Firefly was awarded the mission in October 2022 under the Orbital Services Program 4 contract.