SpaceX, after a successful collaboration with NASA to send two American astronauts to the ISS on its Dragon capsule (Falcon 9 rocket), will now collaborate with the US Military. Elon Musk’s space organization has won a $149 million contract to develop missile-tracking satellites for the US Defense, U.S. Space Development Agency (SDA) announced on Monday.
The company has been assigned the task of building four satellites with a wide-angle infrared missile-tracking sensor, which will help the US Military detect and track missiles like the intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs), etc.
According to the contract, the infrared sensors for the missiles will be developed by another subcontractor and SpaceX will use its Starlink assembly plant in Redmond, Washington to build the satellites.
Starlink is a project by SpaceX to build a satellite internet constellation that will provide satellite Internet access. Estimated to be worth around $10 billion, the project was idealized in 2015. The proposed constellation will consist of thousands of small satellites in the low-earth orbits that will help in providing satellite internet connectivity to remote areas as well as urban areas at promising prices. SpaceX also has plans to sell some of these satellites for military, exploratory, or scientific purposes. Elon Musk had said this project will help SpaceX generate enough revenue to fund its Mars mission.
The Starlink program has seen great success, with the company completing almost a dozen successful missions so far. This has helped SpaceX gain marketwide trust, and must have played a big role in getting today’s contract.
However, SpaceX was not the only company to get the contract. L3 Harris Technologies Inc., a tech company, has also received a contract to build another four satellites for $193 million. Both SpaceX and L3 Harris Technologies are expected to deliver the satellites for launch by 2022 fall.