VOX Space, the Virgin Orbit subsidiary which provides responsive and affordable launch services for the U.S. national security community, announced that it successfully completed a responsive launch simulation for the U.S. Air Force’s (USAF) second major Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) exercise. The space domain has become a key tenet of USAF’s ABMS planning; and as part of the September 3rd, 2020, exercise, VOX Space demonstrated a new approach to launching a critical satellite for U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) on a very short call-up time, taking advantage of the company’s uniquely flexible air-launched system, LauncherOne.
ABMS is a key element of USAF’s strategy to modernize communications and decision-making across the entirety of the U.S. Armed Forces. The strategy centers around the concept of Joint All-Domain Command & Control (JADC2), which is the convergence of strategic, operational, and tactical resources across all domains. According to USAF, in coalescing a shared operating environment, ABMS will enable those responsible for national security to respond more swiftly and decisively to threats from adversaries.
As USAF has previously acknowledged, inexpensive small satellites are crucial to developing space architectures that are less vulnerable to disruption or attack. Disaggregating existing systems into more distributed networks of satellites will do wonders to improve resiliency — but the other, equally important part of the equation is responsive launch, as the ability to quickly and easily replace any single disabled satellite serves as a strong deterrent to malfeasance.
LauncherOne has therefore proved to be an attractive solution due to the incomparable mobility, flexibility and responsiveness afforded by air-launch. During the ABMS exercise, Virgin Orbit’s carrier aircraft, a 747-400 named ”Cosmic Girl,” took off from Mojave Air and Space Port before transiting to a drop site as specified by USAF to simulate the release of the rocket.
Updates on Cosmic Girl’s status both pre-launch and in-flight were pushed through dataONE, a software interface designed to collect and disseminate all domain sensor information to any operations center, anywhere, and at any time.
“We’re extremely proud to have participated in this exercise alongside the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Space Force and partners around the globe. For one, our selection is a testament to the incredibly valuable capabilities that only LauncherOne and air-launch can provide,” said VOX Space President Mandy Vaughn. “It’s also very motivating to see USSF commit to leveraging the commercial space market to create a more modern and robust space architecture. Our team is excited to lend a hand in helping to keep people safe back on Earth, even as the space domain up above grows ever more contested.”
Source: Virgin Orbit
Date: Sep 11, 2020