SpaceX has secured its inaugural contract for Starshield, the defense-focused version of its Starlink satellite internet service, in a deal with the U.S. Space Force. The one-year agreement, valued at up to $70 million, will facilitate the provision of end-to-end Starshield services, including connectivity via the Starlink constellation, user terminals, ancillary equipment, network management, and other associated support.
SpaceX has won a $70 million contract from the U.S. Space Force for Starshield, its defense-focused Starlink satellite internet service. This signifies SpaceX’s foray into the defense sector and highlights the increasing interest in satellite-based communications systems. Starlink’s large satellite network offers enhanced resilience to potential attacks, making it an attractive option for the military.
New Milestone for SpaceX
This significant milestone showcases SpaceX’s entry into the defense sector and marks another triumph for Starlink. Under the terms of the contract, SpaceX will receive $15 million by the end of this month. It is anticipated that the agreement will benefit more than 50 mission partners across the entire U.S. military.
Starlink’s Crucial Role
Starlink, and satellite-based communications systems in general, gained prominence during the early stages of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. SpaceX, upon activating the service in Ukraine, dispatched a substantial number of Starlink terminals for civilian and military use. Nonetheless, the extent of Starlink’s involvement in Ukrainian defense operations was a subject of debate, even among the top brass at SpaceX.
With the introduction of Starshield in December last year, SpaceX hopes to provide clarity regarding the use of commercial services in military operations. On its official website, the company states that Starshield leverages SpaceX’s Starlink technology and launch capabilities to support national security efforts. Specific details about the service, however, remain limited.
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, stressed the importance of maintaining a distinction between Starlink and Starshield, affirming that the former should serve civilian purposes while the latter caters to defense customers. Musk’s stance resonates with the vision of the U.S. Space Force, which aims to enhance its satellite internet capabilities. The proliferated architecture of Starlink, with many thousands of low Earth orbit satellites, makes it a robust and resilient network that can withstand potential adversary threats.