Elon Musk’s SpaceX has landed a $149 million contract to build missile-tracking satellites for the Pentagon.
SpaceX would build four satellites in its assembly plant in Redmond, Washington, the US Space Development Agency (SDA) said on Monday, per Reuters. The plant is where SpaceX builds satellites for Starlink, a constellation of satellites designed to beam the internet around the world.
This is SpaceX’s first government contract to build satellites.
The four satellites would be fitted with a wide-angle infrared missile-tracking sensor supplied by a subcontractor, an SDA official said.
The award is the SDA’s first step to acquiring satellites that can track intercontinental ballistic missiles, which are difficult to intercept.
US technology company L3Harris Technologies was also awarded $193 million to build another four satellites for the SDA. Both SpaceX and L3Harris Technologies are expected to have the satellites ready for launch by 2022.
This is not the first contract SpaceX has won from the Pentagon: In August it won part of a billion-dollar agreement with the Department of Defense to launch new rockets for the Space Force. The SDA is due to become part of Space Force by October 2022.
The news comes after the Bank of America said on September 28 that the space economy was likely to grow by $1 trillion in the next decade, as it predicted a boom in satellite equipment and new areas of the space market, such as space tourism.