Elon Musk’s SpaceX won a $149 million contract to build missile-tracking satellites for the Pentagon. This was a statement from the U.S. Space Development Agency (SDA) on Monday. It’s the company’s first government contract to build satellites.
SpaceX became known in modern technology for its reusable rockets and astronaut capsules. It is ramping up satellite production for Starlink, a growing constellation of hundreds of internet-beaming satellites. Chief executive Elon Musk hopes it will generate enough revenue to help fund SpaceX’s interplanetary goals.
SpaceX will use its Starlink assembly plant in Redmond, Washington under the SDA contract. It will build four satellites fitted with a wide-angle infrared missile-tracking sensor supplied by a subcontractor. This was according to an SDA official.
Technology company L3 Harris Technologies Inc. was the former Harris Corporation. It received $193 million to build another four satellites.
By fall 2022, both companies will deliver the satellites for launch. Moreover, the awards are part of the SDA’s first phase to procure satellites to detect and track missiles. These are like intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) which can travel long distances and are challenging to track and intercept.
SpaceX in 2019 received $28 million from the Air Force to use the fledgling Starlink satellite network. That is to test encrypted internet services with a number of military planes. The Air Force, though, has not ordered any Starlink satellites of its own.
Elon Musk to Personally Inspect SpaceX’s Launch Pad Sites
Elon Musk said he will go in person to check SpaceX’s launch pads. In fact, this occurred after a disappointing week where two rockets failed to launch.
SpaceX aborted a launch of its Starlink high-speed internet satellites on Thursday, following an unexpected “ground system sensor reading.”
A scheduled launch on Friday of its Falcon 9 rocket was aborted just seconds before launch.
In a tweet, Elon Musk said this was caused by an “unexpected pressure rise in the turbomachinery gas generator.”
The two aborted attempts were enough to draw Musk’s concern saying they will need to make a lot of improvements. That is to have a chance of completing 48 launches next year, he said in a tweet. This was after the aborted Falcon 9 launch.
Technology news reported that the tech billionaire announced he would come to the Florida launch sites in person this week.
They’re doing a broad review of the launch site, propulsion, structures, avionics, range & regulatory constraints this weekend. Meanwhile, he will also be at the Cape next week to review hardware in person, Musk tweeted. He was referring to SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral site.
Lately, most of his energy is focused on SpaceX’s Boca Chica site in Texas. Thus, making this visit significant. It is where the company has been building its next rocket design called Starship.
In fact, the Starship is being developed to be fully reusable.
Inspecting the Florida sites at Cape Canavarel, and the Kennedy Space center means going back to more established designs.
Consequently, Cape Canavarel is where the Falcon 9 takes off. The Kennedy Space center is where Starlink satellites are sent up into orbit.
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