SpaceX Gains Starshield Contract From the Pentagon
Also, 22 Starlink Satellites Launched in Cape Canaveral
The Pentagon has awarded Elon Musk's SpaceX its first confirmed contract for the Starshield network, a military-specific version of the company's Starlink satellite internet system, the defense agency said Wednesday, September 27.
As the month draws to a close, SpaceX launched 22 Starlink satellites on Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral, livestreams highligthed on September 29.
SpaceX on Sept. 1 was awarded a one-year contract for Starshield with a maximum value of $70 million, a Space Force spokesperson confirmed. The award was part of a program run by the Space Force's commercial satellite communications office that included 18 other companies.
"The SpaceX contract provides for Starshield end-to-end service (via the Starlink constellation), user terminals, ancillary equipment, network management, and other related services," Space Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek told CNBC.
The Starshield contract requires SpaceX to provide services that support 54 military mission partners across Department of Defense branches, the spokesperson said. The initial phase of the contract obligates $15 million to SpaceX by Sept. 30.
The award follows a Pentagon contract to SpaceX in June to buy an undefined number of Starlink ground terminals for use in Ukraine.
SpaceX unveiled Starshield last year as a new business line and has marketed the service as the center of an "end-to-end," dedicated offering for national security with capabilities distinct from its Starlink consumer and enterprise network.
The Pentagon is already a high-value buyer of the company's rocket launches and has shown increasing interest in its Starlink satellite internet. SpaceX did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on the Starshield contract.
The Starshield contract is the latest step in SpaceX's expansion into military space operations, a growth area for the company that has seen a surge in demand as the U.S. military seeks to ensure its satellites and other space assets are protected from adversaries. It is also part of the Pentagon's effort to develop a secure, reliable, and affordable satellite communication system.
SpaceX has emerged as a leader in the growing commercial satellite industry, and its Starlink system has become the world’s largest satellite constellation. The Starshield contract is another sign of the company's growing presence in the military space market.