The Air Force is using SpaceX’s fledgling satellite network to test encrypted Internet services for several military planes, the president of the space company said Tuesday, detailing the results for the first client of the planned constellation of Elon Musk of thousands of satellites broadband
“We are delivering a large bandwidth in the cabin of the Air Force aircraft,” SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell said Tuesday. “Right now we are just testing the capacity and discovering how to make it work.”
The so-called Starlink constellation of SpaceX, a planned network of up to 30,000 satellites in low Earth orbit destined to transmit broadband Internet worldwide, is crucial to generate money to finance the development of the Musk Mars rocket, known as the spacecraft.
The Air Force program, known as Global Lightning, began testing with SpaceX in early 2018 and used the first two Starlink test satellites to transmit to fixed terminals on a C-12 military transport aircraft in flight, demonstrating speeds 610 megabits per second, SpaceX senior vice president Tim Hughes said. That’s fast enough to download a movie in less than a minute.
SpaceX launched the first batch of 60 operating satellites in low Earth orbit in May and plans to launch another 60 in November from an Air Force station in Florida.
Shotwell said the program, part of a $ 28 million Pentagon contract awarded to SpaceX at the end of 2018, is ongoing and hopes to test Starlink with “several” additional types of military aircraft. That contract also includes communications tests between orbiting satellites.
The U.S. Army UU. It is increasingly dependent on satellites to determine what it does on the ground, guiding ammunition with space-based lasers and satellites, as well as securing such assets from Russian and Chinese satellite blocking technology.
The head of the new US Space Command, General John Raymond, told reporters in September that he visited the SpaceX Starlink factory in Redmond, Washington, but did not give details about the Pentagon’s plans.
Starlink is competing with OneWeb, backed by Softbank, which aims to provide millions of people in remote and rural areas with high-speed Internet transmitted from space and has already launched a batch of six satellites. Raymond said he also visited the new OneWeb satellite production line in Cape Canaveral, Florida.