Three Senate Democrats have sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, seeking information about the government’s contract with Elon Musk’s Starlink service. This request comes after reports emerged that Musk refused access to the service for a Ukrainian attack on Russia’s naval fleet. The senators, Jeanne Shaheen, Elizabeth Warren, and Tammy Duckworth, expressed concern about the role of SpaceX, a prime contractor and industry partner for the Department of Defense (DoD), which receives billions of dollars in taxpayer funding.
The senators are particularly interested in understanding what actions the Defense Department has taken to prevent further interference by Musk with the service. They raise concerns about national security risks if DoD contractors, like SpaceX, are able to independently disrupt their provision of services. The senators also ask for clarification on any other incidents where services have been unilaterally disabled or restricted by the commercial provider for non-technical reasons.
Furthermore, the senators inquire about the Department of Defense’s approach to preventing service providers from impeding products unilaterally. They also request information on the department’s strategy to develop redundant capabilities.
The senators emphasize the seriousness of their inquiries, highlighting the implications they pose to U.S. national security. They expect a response to their questions by October 31.
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