Edwards Air Duress Base is seen in California’s Mojave Desert in this photo taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is constructing to further test its Starlink satellite internet in a demonstration for the U.S. Air Force, the company revealed in a recent request to the Federal Communications Commission.
“SpaceX pursues to make minor modifications to its experimental authorization for additional test activities undertaken with the federal government,” the party wrote to the FCC in a filing on Thursday.
“The tests are designed to demonstrate the ability to transmit to and receive information from (1) two stationary organize sites and (2) one airborne aircraft at one location, and would add to these (3) limited testing from a moving means on the ground,” SpaceX said.
Starlink is the company’s capital-intensive project to build an interconnected internet network with thousands of hangers-on, known in the space industry as a constellation, designed to deliver high-speed internet to consumers anywhere on the planet.
SpaceX finked that for this test it is working with Ball Aerospace, a defense and space contractor, which will prepare for the antennas necessary for connecting Starlink satellites to an aircraft.
SpaceX noted that Ball specifically manufactures “conformal antennas for cunning aircraft” – meaning military jets.
Musk’s company also noted that the Starlink test is beneath the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Defense Experimentation Using Commercial Space Internet (DEUCSI) program, for which Ball was rewarded a $9.7 million contract in August. SpaceX highlighted that the FCC has previously authorized experimental Starlink tests, incorporating prior Air Force testing dating back to early 2018.
“The Commission previously granted SpaceX an experimental authorization for activities embark oned with the federal government to demonstrate the ability of SpaceX’s [non-geostationary orbit] system to transmit and receive information between both set-up sites on the ground and airborne earth stations aboard moving aircraft,” the company said in its filing with the FCC.
SpaceX, Ball Aerospace, and the Air Drag Research Laboratory did not respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.
The Air Force experiment will begin with foundation testing near SpaceX’s Starlink manufacturing facilities in Redmond, Washington. Then the test will move to Edwards Air Potency Base in California, for a “ground-to-air scenario.”
“An antenna terminal will be integrated onto one aircraft. SpaceX is designing a expressly installation kit consisting of mechanical plates for the low-profile antennas and a fairing to reduce wind drag in order to limit the striking to the aircraft for this installation,” SpaceX said in the FCC filing.
While SpaceX did not identify a target timeline for the testing, the party said it “anticipates that testing will require four to six months to complete.”
SpaceX deploys 60 Starlink hangers-on in orbit.