SpaceX Wins US Space Force Contract for Starshield

SpaceX has received its first contract from the US Space Force to provide specialized satellite communications to the military as part of the company’s new Starshield program. The company is competing with 15 companies for $900 million in work orders through 2028.

The Space Force’s new contract program, Proliferated Low Earth Orbit, leverages communications services from satellites orbiting from 100 miles to 1,000 miles (160 kilometers to 1,600 kilometers) above Earth. The Starshield service will be provided through SpaceX’s existing Starlink constellation of communications satellites, according to Bloomberg.

SpaceX continues to expand its importance to the Pentagon. Earlier it became known about competition with United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co., for sending the national security payload. Additionally, a Pentagon contract was awarded in June to provide Starlink satellite communications to the Ukrainian military and the launch of 13 Falcon 9 satellites this month for the Pentagon’s Space Development Agency.

SpaceX’s one-year contract for Starshield was signed on September 1, according to Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek. The contract, with a maximum amount of $70 million, “provides for Starshield end-to-end service via the Starlink constellation, user terminals, ancillary equipment, network management and other related services,” she said. By September 30, SpaceX will have committed approximately $15 million to fund 54 “mission partners” across the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, she said.

On September 8, SpaceX mentioned in X that it is “building Starshield for the US government, which is similar to, but much smaller than, Starlink, as it will not have to handle millions of users. That system will be owned and controlled by the US government.” Starshield is part of SpaceX’s special projects group. Its vice president is retired Air Force General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, former head of US Northern Command.

The Starshield contract “is for a service” but “how SpaceX or any other company” provides “that service is up to them,” Lieutenant Colonel Omar Villarreal, a Space Force spokesman, said in an email. “I am unable to get into specifics, but requirements were received from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and other outside agencies” and combined, he said, according to Bloomberg.

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