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U.S. Air Force Awards SpaceX $28.7 Million to Study Military Applications of Starlink

Accepted submission by takyon at 2018-12-22 02:30:34 from the limey-helm dept.
Techonomics

SpaceX's Starlink eyed by US military as co. raises $500-750M for development [teslarati.com]

In a reasonably predictable turn of events, SpaceX has been awarded a healthy $28.7M contract to study, develop, and test possible military applications of its prospective Starlink internet satellite constellation.

Previously reported by Teslarati in August 2018, FCC applications related to Starlink revealed that SpaceX had plans to develop and test Starlink interconnectivity with conformal antenna arrays installed on aircraft, all but directly pointing to military involvement with a reference to the need for aerial maneuvers "[representative] of a high-performance aircraft."

Around the same time as those FCC documents surfaced, the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) spoke with AviationWeek about plans to experiment with the potential capabilities offered by a flurry of proposed low Earth orbit (LEO) internet satellite constellations, including the likes of SpaceX's Starlink, OneWeb, a Telesat network, and others. While no specific companies were fingered in AFRL's public statements, it was far too convenient to be a coincidence. Four months later, the below transaction was published in the Department of Defense's running list of new contract awards:

"[SpaceX], Hawthorne, California, has been awarded a $28,713,994 competitive, firm-fixed-price ... agreement for experimentation ... in the areas of establishing connectivity [and] operational experimentation ... [and] will include connectivity demonstrations to Air Force ground sites and aircraft for experimental purposes. For the proposed Phase 2, the awardee proposes to perform experiments [with] early versions of a commercial space-to-space data relay service and mobile connectivity directly from space to aircraft." – Department of Defense [defense.gov], FBO FA8650-17-S-9300

Previously: FCC Authorizes SpaceX to Provide Broadband Satellite Services [soylentnews.org]
SpaceX Starlink Satellite Prototypes Include Packed, Flexible Solar Arrays [soylentnews.org]
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk Fired Managers and Employees in June to Shake Up Starlink Project [soylentnews.org]
Elon Musk's SpaceX Is Raising $500 Million in Funding; Now Valued at $30.5 Billion [soylentnews.org]


Original Submission