WASHINGTON — Agile Space Industries has been tapped to develop a propulsion system for True Anomaly’s Jackal vehicle, which was recently selected for the U.S. Space Force’s 2025 “tactically responsive space” mission known as Victus Haze.

Under the agreement, Agile Space — based in Durango, Colorado — will supply the main engines, attitude control thrusters, propellant tanks, and other critical propulsion components for True Anomaly’s spacecraft.

For the Victus Haze mission, True Anomaly said it is developing an advanced “highly propulsive” configuration of the Jackal to enable in-orbit maneuvers, rendezvous, and proximity operations as required by the Space Force. The company has not yet announced the launch provider for the Jackal that will fly the Victus Haze mission. The Jackal and another vehicle to be developed by Rocket Lab under a separate contract will be tasked to perform maneuvers in close proximity. 

Companies are co-investing

True Anomaly, a two-year old startup based in Centennial, Colorado, developed Jackal for the military market. The company earlier this week cut 25% of its workforce but said the staff reductions will not impact its ability to execute existing contracts.

Agile Space and True Anomaly are co-investing in a novel chemical propulsion system, said Chris Pearson, CEO of Agile Space, which specializes in in-space propulsion technologies.  The companies are not disclosing specifics on the propellants. 

“It’s a true collaboration,” said Pearson. “The hardware being brought to market is enabled by strategic investments in advanced additive manufacturing and vertically integrated propulsion test capabilities.”

Pearson emphasized the propulsion solution will provide enhanced capabilities compared to traditional systems. “The military wants to perform dynamic operations which require a sophisticated propulsion system that provides high acceleration, high thrust, finesse and efficiency,” he said. 

Complex mission requirements

“For these rendezvous and proximity operations you don’t just want very high acceleration. You need a very precise, low acceleration type of propulsion. And for a system to be able to give you both of those is actually pretty challenging,” said Pearson.

In addition to the propulsion components, Agile will provide logistics services including handling and spacecraft fuel-loading for the Jackal vehicle. 

The selection of Jackal for the Victus Haze mission comes on the heels of an unsuccessful debut of True Anomaly’s first two vehicles launched in March for a demonstration mission. Pearson said Agile Space did not supply the propulsion systems on those spacecraft.

“Agile’s hardware gives Jackal propulsive capability that has simply not been seen before in a spacecraft of this size,” True Anomaly’s CEO and co-founder Even Rogers said in a statement. 

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...