Rogers’ last government job was leading teams at the US Space Command that planned how and when to deploy defensive and offensive military space systems. He and his co-founders, Dan Brunsky, Tom Nichols and Kyle Zakrzewski, also former Air Force and Space Force officers, “knew the problem better than anyone, dealt with the limitations of technology on a daily basis, and were frustrated by those limitations,” Rogers says. Instead of waiting for a large industrial defense contractor to do it, they decided to tackle the problem themselves. The location of space weapons, he says, is “a lot closer than most people might think.”
True Anomaly has already raised more than $23 million from investors, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. That includes a December investment by Narya, a venture capital firm co-founded by U.S. Sen. J. D. Vance, a MAGA-leaning Republican from Ohio. (Rogers says True Anomaly itself has no political affiliation.)
The company recently signed a lease for a 35,000-square-foot factory in suburban Denver, Colorado. In addition to manufacturing the Jackal satellites, True Anomaly engineers are developing a cloud-based control system to integrate autonomous agents and human operators, using commercial game engines such as Unity to create real-time interactive applications, and developing high-precision physics software to help the Jackals maneuver in space. True Anomaly has already filed for a trademark covering, among other things, hardware and software for “orbital space imaging, proximity rendezvous and target acquisition systems.”
“What sets True Anomaly apart is the way it appears to present its satellite as a pursuit system rather than an imaging or intelligence-gathering system,” said Caitlin Johnson, deputy director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It worries me because it could cause an unintended escalation. Especially in connection with the past founder of the Air Force, our adversaries may perceive it as a military company that has begun to develop this capability.”
The company’s first task might have been to keep its own floating computers intact. “Cooperative RPO is already difficult,” says Johnson. “You see it from the Astroscale and Northrop demonstrations with their service satellites that have been planned for years.” NASA’s joint RPO mission in 2005, called DART, failed when the spacecraft malfunctioned, crashed into the target satellite, and was destroyed.
Missions to chase competing satellites are probably even riskier, Johnson says: “You don’t have the same data coming from another satellite. Maybe you don’t have charts and diagnostics of what the satellite looks like so you know what you’re going to run into.’
Any collision in orbit can create many thousands of pieces of space debris, each of which can damage other satellites, creating even more debris. Researchers worry about an increase in orbital debris that could eventually cause a catastrophic cascade known as Kessler syndrome. Rogers says collision avoidance “is something we pursue very closely and aggressively. We strive to act responsibly and sustainably in the space sphere.”
Rogers himself is no stranger to taking risks. Before starting True Anomaly, he founded and led a crypto hedge fund called Phobos Capital. Before that, he founded a company called 3720 to 1, Inc. The Empire strikes backC-3PO reports.
After the launch of the SpaceX rocket in October, it will become clearer whether Rogers’ ambition to create a satellite has a better chance of success, or if it is just another fantasy.