True Anomaly, Agile Team on DoD RPO Mission

Image: True Anomaly

In-space propulsion startup Agile Space Industries is joining True Anomaly’s team for US Space Systems Command’s dogfighting-in-space challenge, VICTUS HAZE.

The ambitious mission is part of the Pentagon’s broader focus on responsive space operations, and efficient propulsion systems will play a key role in the requirement to easily move around in space without running out of fuel. 

The partnership: Agile is building the main engines, attitude control thrusters, propellant tanks, and other propulsion components that will fly on True Anomaly’s Jackal spacecraft, helping it maneuver between orbits. The company will also procure fuel and gas up the spacecraft ahead of launch.  

“Agile’s hardware gives Jackal propulsive capability that has simply not been seen before in a spacecraft of this size,” True Anomaly CEO Even Rogers said in a statement. “By combining efficiency and high thrust, we will empower operators with the agility needed to succeed in the demanding space environment.”

A refresher: Space Systems Command tapped Rocket Lab and True Anomaly this month for VICTUS HAZE, a joint rendezvous and proximity operations mission in which the two spacecraft will inspect each other at close range. Over the course of the mission, operators hope to think through tactics for rendezvous and proximity operations, including tasking one spacecraft to attempt to avoid being imaged. 

True Anomaly will use its autonomous Jackal vehicle while Rocket Lab will fly its first RPO spacecraft based on the design for its Pioneer satellite bus.  

Lean team: True Anomaly reportedly laid off ~30 people of its 100+ person staff this week. A company spokesperson told Payload that the layoffs were the result of examining “every aspect” of the company with an eye toward future goals.

“We identified the duplication of roles and functions across the company, and as such, reduced our headcount. This won’t impact our ability to execute on our contracts with customers or on our mission to bring security and sustainability to the space domain,” the spokesperson said.

What’s next: The VICTUS HAZE demo is expected to launch in 2025.

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