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HomeTechnologySpaceX secures inaugural contract for Starshield satellite internet venture with defense focus.

SpaceX secures inaugural contract for Starshield satellite internet venture with defense focus.

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SpaceX has secured its first contract for Starshield, the defense-focused version of its Starlink satellite internet service, from the U.S. Space Force. The one-year contract, valued at a maximum of $70 million, will provide end-to-end service via the Starlink constellation, user terminals, network management, and other related services. The contract is set to support over 50 mission partners across all branches of the U.S. military. Starlink gained attention during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine when SpaceX activated the service in Ukraine and supplied Starlink terminals, although its role in defense operations was disputed.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk initially supported sending Starlink terminals to the Ukrainian military, but later refused to activate the service when Ukraine planned an attack on Russia’s navy. Starshield, which was announced last December, aims to offer clarity on using a commercial service in military operations. It leverages SpaceX’s Starlink technology and launch capability to support national security efforts. Musk emphasized the importance of Starlink remaining a civilian network while Starshield is owned by the U.S. government and controlled by the DoD Space Force.

The U.S. Space Force is keen to increase its satellite internet capacities, and Starlink is particularly appealing due to its “proliferated” architecture of numerous satellites in low Earth orbit. This extensive network enhances resilience against potential attacks from adversaries, making it an attractive option for the military. Although SpaceX did not comment on the new contract, Musk expressed his belief that having separate divisions for Starlink and Starshield, serving civilian and defense customers respectively, is the correct approach.

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