Tue. Sep 26th, 2023
Air Force Secretary Assures of Working Relationship with SpaceX Despite Reports

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has stated that the US Department of Defense (DoD) is comfortable working with SpaceX, despite recent reports suggesting restrictions imposed by Elon Musk on the use of Starlink satellite services in Ukraine.

During a news conference at the Air Space & Cyber conference, Kendall acknowledged the reports but stated that he could not comment on them. However, he emphasized that any company, including one run by a powerful billionaire like Musk, that signs a contract with the DoD is expected to comply with the terms of that contract.

Kendall revealed that the US Air Force and other DoD organizations have not faced any problems with the Starlink internet services provided by SpaceX under various contracts. He also noted that after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, SpaceX offered Starlink services at its own expense and through an agreement with the US Agency for International Development.

Furthermore, Kendall mentioned that the DoD has recently signed agreements with SpaceX and other satellite communications services providers to support Ukraine, although he has not seen these contracts himself.

While expressing confidence in SpaceX as a reliable launch provider, Kendall mentioned that Starlink is still a relatively new product and the government is still learning about its capabilities. He also highlighted that the DoD is accustomed to relying on large and powerful companies like Lockheed Martin.

Kendall expressed his desire to see more competitors, such as Blue Origin, enter the market for national security launches. He mentioned that efforts are underway, in collaboration with Space Force procurement executive Frank Calvelli and Congress, to finalize the details of the next national security space launch procurement, known as NSSL Phase 3.

In conclusion, Kendall reassured that the DoD relies on enforceable and executable contracts, irrespective of the ownership of the company providing the services. He expressed confidence in the future of robust competition and reliable capabilities while emphasizing the importance of well-written and enforceable contracts.