SpaceX Secures First US Space Force Contract from Pentagon
SpaceX has been awarded its first contract by the US Space Force to provide customized satellite communications under its new Starshield program.
The contract, which has a ceiling of $70 million, was awarded on September 1 and extends SpaceX’s role as a defense contractor.
According to Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek, the contract covers “Starshield end-to-end service via the Starlink constellation, user terminals, ancillary equipment, network management and other related services,” reports Bloomberg.
SpaceX is among 16 companies, including Viasat, competing for a share of $900 million in work orders through 2028 under the Space Force’s “Proliferated Low Earth Orbit” contracts program. The satellites involved in this program will orbit Earth at altitudes ranging from 100 to 1,000 miles.
The contract comes amid scrutiny over SpaceX’s reliability as a Pentagon supplier. Elon Musk’s decision to decline a request from Ukraine’s government to extend Starlink coverage for a naval drone attack on Russian targets last year has raised questions among lawmakers.
A group of Democratic senators expressed their concerns in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, stating, “We are deeply concerned with the ability and willingness of SpaceX to interrupt their service at Mr. Musk’s whim.”
By September 30, approximately $15 million will be allocated to SpaceX, supporting 54 “mission partners” across the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, Stefanek added.
The Starshield program falls under SpaceX’s Special Projects group, led by Vice President and retired Air Force General Terrence O’Shaughnessy. Lieutenant Colonel Omar Villarreal, a Space Force spokesman, stated that the contract “is for a service,” but how SpaceX or any other company provides that service is up to them.
Musk mentioned in a social media post that “SpaceX is building Starshield for the US government, which will be owned and controlled by the US government.”
The contract adds to SpaceX’s growing Pentagon portfolio, which includes a June contract to provide Starlink satellite communications to the Ukraine military and a Falcon 9 launch of 13 satellites for the Pentagon’s Space Development Agency.