SpaceX’s Starlink internet service completed 9 months of U.S. military tests in the Arctic.
Starlink’s U.S. military tests were found to be a “reliable and high-performance communications system in the Arctic, including on-the-move applications,” Brian Beal told Bloomberg News.
Beal is a principal engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Integrated Capabilities Directorate. He shared that the tests evaluated Starlink’s usefulness for the Pentagon’s needs.
“We tested in some very high winds and very cold temperatures. That all went smoothly, though. Once we got the terminals mounted securely to withstand high winds, they worked great with no issues,” Beal said.
The Arctic has increasingly become an area of focus as China and Russia make moves to increase their influence. The United States has also sought ways to expand its reach in the Arctic. However, the Arctic’s remote location has made communication through the military’s existing satellites challenging. That’s where Starlink steps in.
In November 2022, The Pentagon praised Starlink for keeping U.S. troops connected in the Arctic.
“You can imagine an Army, Air Force or Navy unit deployed to a remote location that doesn’t have the cell-phone service niceties and very quickly have communications at high rates that an airman can set up in 10 minutes–that’s a great capability to have,” said Beal at the start of the tests.
Elon Musk’s Starlink & The Pentagon
Starlink’s Arctic tests pave the way for Elon Musk to strengthen his ties with the Pentagon.
In September 2023, Starlink’s Starshield offering won a contract with the United States Space Force. Starlink Starshield won a contract to provide customized satellite communications for the U.S. military that would last up to one year with a ceiling of $70 million.
In June 2023, Starlink won a contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to buy services for Ukraine. Starlink will continue to provide Ukrainian troops with communication networks as part of the contract.