A $15M rocket caused that squiggly line in the Fresno sky
The Fresno Bee September 15, 2023
(Tribune News Service) — There is an expensive reason for the zigzag lines of thin clouds in the Fresno skies that was spotted by many Thursday.
An Alpha rocket was launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base by the startup company Firefly Aerospace, soaring through the skies just after sunset as part of a responsive space mission called Victus Nox.
The rocket’s vapor trail left that squiggly line in the sky — seen in Fresno and as far as Arizona — and leaving many curious about what they saw.
“Does anyone know what this is?” a person on nextdoor.com wrote.
According to the Firefly Aerospace website, the goal of the Victus Nox program is to demonstrate the United States’ capability to rapidly respond to on-orbit needs during a conflict or in response to a national security threat.
“For decades, the promise of a faster and more responsive launch capability has seduced military strategists who have looked for ways to get satellites to orbit quickly in response to adversary threats or intelligence demands,” reads a spacenews.com story. “One such effort is Victus Nox.”
In a news release sent by Firefly space in August, the Victus Nox space mission never has been done before.
The rocket reportedly had a price tag of $15 million, according to nextspaceflight.com.
“The U.S.’s ability to rapidly respond to on-orbit needs is critical to our national defense, particularly in today’s evolving space environment,” Space Force Lt. Col. MacKenzie Birchenough said in the Firefly Aerospace news release. “The accelerated build time the team demonstrated for VICTUS NOX, combined with the demanding launch and on-orbit goals, exemplifies our strong commitment to preserving our nation’s dominance and ability to freely operate in the space domain.”
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