The US Space Force has awarded SpaceX a $70 million contract for Starlink internet services, which includes unique terms and conditions that were not present in previous commercial contracts. The contract, which was awarded by the Space Systems Command, includes a one-year task order for the procurement of Starlink internet services, as well as other unspecified requirements set by the Department of Defense (DoD).
According to a spokesperson for the command, SpaceX will be providing a best effort and global subscription for various land, maritime, stationary, and mobility platforms and users. The service provided under this agreement will be known as Starshield, which is SpaceX’s brand name for its military product line.
The spokesperson further explained that the task order for Starshield services will be provided by the Starlink satellite constellation. However, it will be differentiated from the commercial Starlink service due to the unique terms and conditions set by the DoD, which are not found in commercial service contracts.
SpaceX is one of 16 selected vendors that will compete for up to $900 million worth of task orders over the next 10 years as part of an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) procurement vehicle for proliferated low Earth orbit (PLEO) satellite services. The $70 million contract awarded to SpaceX is the first and only task order under this new PLEO IDIQ.
The specific unique terms and conditions included in the Starshield contract were not disclosed by the Space Systems Command. However, it is believed that the contract includes provisions to prevent Elon Musk from turning off the service unilaterally, and likely includes enhanced cybersecurity and anti-jamming protection requirements.
The contract sheds light on SpaceX’s intentions for its Starshield line of products. It appears that SpaceX is bifurcating its commercial and government businesses, with the aim of providing a secure satellite network for government and military customers. This move may also position SpaceX to potentially spin off Starlink as a separate company in the future.