The News Today
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12.6.20
Spotting ICBMs

The Pentagon Commissioned SpaceX to Build Missile-Tracking Satellites

__Dan Robitzski__Filed Under: Hard Science
Pixabay/Victor Tangermann

Commissions Open!

SpaceX just partnered with the U.S. military’s Space Development Agency (SDA) to manufacture four new satellites that the Pentagon will use to detect and track missiles from space.

The $149 million contract is for four satellites, according to Reuters, which are scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2022. The actual missile-tracking sensors will be developed by a separate subcontractor and attached to the satellites later, but the military is hoping to piggyback on SpaceX’s recent success in ramping up satellite production for its Starlink network.

Growing Partnership

SpaceX and the Pentagon have worked together in the past, and the Army even proposed adding a software update to the existing Starlink network to improve global navigation. But this is the first time SpaceX has won a military contract to actually build new satellites, according to The Verge.

The satellites themselves will be built at the same facility SpaceX uses to make its Starlink constellation, and as SpaceNews reports, the winning design is based on Starlink as well.

First Step

The missile-tracking satellites are an early stage of an ambitious effort by the U.S. military to build its own constellation of satellites.

In addition to the SDA missile-tracking satellites, the military is developing its own constellation of communications satellites, which The Verge reports will be able to rapidly communicate back and forth with this new weapons-tracking network.

READ MORE: Musk’s SpaceX wins Pentagon award for missile tracking satellites [Reuters]

More on SpaceX: The Military Wants Access to SpaceX’s Satellite Constellation