The Air Force is utilizing SpaceX’s fledgling satellite network to test encrypted web services for plenty of army planes, the space firm’s president said on Tuesday, detailing outcomes for the first buyer of Elon Musk’s planned constellation of thousands of broadband-beaming satellites.
SpaceX’s so-called Starlink constellation, a deliberate network of as much as 30,000 satellites in low Earth orbit meant to beam broadband web globally, is essential to generating the money to fund the development of Musk’s heavy-lift Mars rocket dubbed Starship.
The Air Force program, referred to as Global Lightning, began testing with SpaceX in early 2018 and utilized Starlink’s first two test satellites to beam to terminals fixed to a C-12 military transport plane in flight, demonstrating web speeds of 610 megabits-per-second, SpaceX Senior VP Tim Hughes said. That’s quick enough to download a film under a minute.
SpaceX launched in May the first batch of 60 operational satellites into low Earth orbit and plans to launch more 60 in November from an Air Force station in Florida.
Shotwell stated the program, a part of a $28 million Pentagon contract awarded to SpaceX in late 2018, is underway and expects to test Starlink with “a number” of extra military plane types. That contract also consists of testing communications between satellites within the orbit.
The U.S. military is more and more dependent on satellites to determine what it does on the bottom, guiding munitions with space-based lasers and satellites in addition to securing such assets from satellite-jamming tech from China and Russia.
The head of the brand new U.S. Space Command, General John Raymond, told reporters in September that he visited SpaceX’s Starlink manufacturing unit in Redmond, Washington, however, he didn’t go into particulars about the Pentagon’s programs.