Elon Musk-owned SpaceX inked a deal with the Department of Defense to provide the Pentagon with a secure satellite-based communications network. Recently, several members of Congress have attacked Musk and called for an investigation into SpaceX’s contracts with the Pentagon.
On Wednesday, CNBC received confirmation from a Space Force official that SpaceX made a $70 million agreement with the Pentagon on September 1. Under the contract, the Musk-owned company will provide the Department of Defense with Starshield.
According to SpaceX, Starshield is a variation of Starlink but designed for militaries. “Starshield leverages SpaceX’s Starlink technology and launch capability to support national security efforts. While Starlink is designed for consumer and commercial use, Starshield is designed for government use, with an initial focus on three areas,” the SpaceX website explains.
Earlier this month, a biography by Walter Isaacson alleged that Musk ordered his company to shut off Starlink in Ukraine to prevent an attack on a Russian naval base. However, the author quickly revised his account to explain that Kiev sent Musk an emergency request to expand the range of Starlink to cover Russian territory.
Musk explained that Kiev’s request was denied because SpaceX needed to comply with American sanctions on Russia. Additionally, the SpaceX terms of service explicitly state that using Starlink for a military attack would violate American laws. Musk also said he would have authorized the Ukrainian request had it come through the US government.
Still, several members of Congress have smeared Musk as an asset of Russian President Vladimir Putin. After Isaacson made the clarification, Senators Jack Reed, Jeanne Shaheen, Elizabeth Warren, and Tammy Duckworth suggested Musk denied the request to aid the Russian war effort and called for an investigation into Musk-owned companies contracting with the Pentagon.