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SpaceX has won a $70 million contract with the US Space Force to provide satellite communications for the US Space Force via its Starshield program, Bloomberg reported. The company will effectively be repurposing its Starlink network for military usage as a way to provide a “secured satellite network for government entities,” according to SpaceX’s website. The contract has a one-year duration.
“The SpaceX contract provides for Starshield end-to-end service (via the Starlink constellation), user terminals, ancillary equipment, network management and other related services,” a Space Force spokesperson told CNBC in a statement. The initial phase requires the Space Force to pay $15 million to SpaceX by September 30th, and SpaceX will support 54 military “mission partners” across Department of Defence (DoD) branches.
A group of US senators recently criticized SpaceX’s actions in Ukraine, after a biography on Elon Musk revealed that he refused Ukraine’s request to extend Starlink coverage to allow a naval attack on Russian-held Crimea. “We are deeply concerned with the ability and willingness of SpaceX to interrupt their service at Mr. Musk’s whim and for the purpose of handcuffing a sovereign country’s self-defense, effectively defending Russian interests,” they wrote.
However in a post on his social network X, Musk refuted that sentiment. “Starlink needs to be a civilian network, not a participant to combat. Starshield will be owned by the US government and controlled by DoD Space Force,” he said.
SpaceX is already a key contractor for the Pentagon, providing the military with rocket launches. Last year, the Space Force approved the company’s reusable Falcon Heavy to carry US spy satellites into orbit. Earlier this year, SpaceX won a contract to provide an unspecified number of Starlink ground terminals for use in Ukraine.