SpaceX wins contract to build missile tracking satellites for US military2020-10-07 17:40 by Daniela
SpaceX has won $149 million from the Space Development Agency (SDA) to leverage the successes of its Starlink constellation and build custom satellites for the US Department of Defense (DoD).
The companies will build four overhead persistent infrared imaging (OPIR) satellites of their own design that must be able to track missiles and communicate directly with transport layer satellites. Those satellites are currently being developed by Lockheed Martin and York Space Systems under separate contracts. Four more satellites will be supplied by L3Harris, which will be paid $193-million for its contribution.
The development comes as no surprise after SpaceX spent more than six months publishing dozens of job openings for satellite design, development, test, and integration engineers with "top secret" security clearance. Thanks to that paper trail, it's been apparent for quite some time that SpaceX planned to leverage its nascent satellite design and production capabilities to build custom spacecraft – and even entire constellations – for customers outside of the company.
Meanwhile SpaceX has launched its 12th Starlink Mission which brings its internet-beaming satellite constellation to just under the 800 it needs to deliver moderate coverage in North America.
"Once these satellites reach their target position, we will be able to roll out a fairly wide public beta in the northern US and hopefully southern Canada," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet.
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