SpaceX has secured a $70 million contract with the US Space Force through its Starshield program, as reported by Bloomberg. The company will repurpose its Starlink network to provide satellite communications specifically for government entities, offering a secure satellite network. The duration of the contract is set for one year.
According to a statement from a Space Force spokesperson to CNBC, the SpaceX contract includes end-to-end service using the Starlink constellation, user terminals, ancillary equipment, network management, and other related services. The Department of Defense (DoD) branches will have 54 military mission partners who will benefit from SpaceX’s support.
Criticism arose recently when it was revealed in Elon Musk’s biography that he refused Ukraine’s request to extend Starlink coverage for a naval attack on Russian-held Crimea. Several US senators expressed concerns about SpaceX’s ability to interrupt their services and questioned their dedication to defending Russian interests. However, Musk clarified on his social network, X, that Starlink is intended to be a civilian network and emphasized that Starshield, which is owned by the US government and controlled by DoD Space Force, would be the appropriate tool for military activity.
SpaceX is already an essential contractor for the Pentagon, providing rocket launches to the military. The Space Force previously approved the use of the company’s reusable Falcon Heavy for carrying US spy satellites into orbit. Additionally, earlier this year, SpaceX won a contract to provide a specific number of Starlink ground terminals for use in Ukraine.
The contract with the US Space Force further solidifies SpaceX’s position in the satellite communications industry and highlights the versatility of the Starlink network in meeting various government needs.