SpaceKs won a $ 28.7 million focused contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory for experimentation to connect data including field locations, planes and space assets – a project that could accelerate Starlink's satellite service.
The contract was awarded on Wednesday, and works should be completed by mid-2021.
It is part of a program called Experiment Defense using the commercial space Internet or DEUCSI, the goal of which is to provide Aircraft with the ability to communicate via multiple satellite Internet services using ordinary hardware elements.
This strategy would allow the Air Force to easily change data service providers – for example, if new vendors decide to enter the market or if existing providers decide to leave it.
There are also tactical reasons for substitution. "A pilot of Air Force using space internet may want to change flight salesmen in order to access a more favorable spectrum or geometry," project managers said in one of their call for proposals.
The award clearly shows that the United States Army is interested in using the global broadband access that Starlink and other satellite constellations in the low Earth orbit could provide. In the past, SpaceKs CEO Elon Musk and other executives have talked more about the civil market – that is, the idea that satellite constellations can benefit billions of people around the world who currently do not have an affordable, reliable broadband access.
The involvement of SpaceKs would begin with connection demonstrations involving aircraft and aerospace terraces. Phase 2 would add two more types of experiments: commercial service for space and space data exchange and mobile connectivity directly from the space network to the aircraft.
Such experiments fit well into the development effort of SpaceKs Starlink, which calls for the release of as many as 12,000 satellites into a low earth orbit. The first satellites could be launched next year, and SpaceKs said that its initial data network could be operational within the 2020-2021 timeframe.
SpaceKs objects in Redmond, Vash. They played a leading role in preparing for Starlink, and this operation has recently undergone a reorganization to accelerate progress. However, the contract notice of the Air Force determines that the work will be carried out at Havthorne, Calif., Where SpaceKs is located.
The Air Force said it had allocated $ 19.1 million from its current fiscal budget for 2019 for research, development, testing and evaluation. The Aviation Research Laboratory, located at the Vright-Paterson Air Force Base in Ohio, is a contracting authority.
SpaceKs is not the only company to show Pentagon plans to take advantage of the technology developed for commercial satellite constellations. Telesat Canada announced last month that it had been contracted by an agency to promote advanced research for $ 2.8 million projects to study the use of commercially-built satellites in an experimental constellation with a low planet Earth known as Blackjack.
Space Nevs announced that DARPA has awarded similar contracts to Airbus Defense and Space and Blue Canion Technologies of Colorado, worth $ 2.9 million and $ 1.5 million. The three awards are just the beginning of expectations of $ 117.5 million, and the 2021 satellite network of prototypes will be deployed by 2021.
Telesat develops a constellation of the low Earth planet for global broadband services, with the aim of operating with about 120 satellites in 2021. Airbus Defense and Space, meanwhile, is a satellites partner in the international consortium OneVeb, which aims to launch a satellite launch next year and provide broadband access in 2020.
Hat type to Eric Berger from Ars Technica and r / SpaceKs on Reddit.