NASA has tapped SpaceX, Amazon and four other American companies to begin developing “near-Earth space communication services” that it may use in future agency missions. The agency, which is in the process of decommissioning its own near-Earth satellite fleet, has been evaluating using commercially-provided SATCOM (satellite communication) networks for over a year and started the search for partners in 2021.
The combined value of the agency’s deal, termed the Communications Services Project (CSP) funded agreements, is $278.5 million USD.
“We are following the agency’s proven approach developed through commercial cargo and commercial crew services. By using funded Space Act Agreements, we’re able to stimulate industry to demonstrate end-to-end capability leading to operational service,” said Eli Naffah, CSP project manager at NASA’s Glenn Research Center.
“The flight demonstrations are risk reduction activities that will develop multiple capabilities and will provide operational concepts, performance validation, and acquisition models needed to plan the future acquisition of commercial services for each class of NASA missions.”
SpaceX’s Space Exploration Technologies has been awarded the highest cut of $69.95 million USD, while Amazon’s Kuiper Government Solutions has received the second highest at $67 million USD.
Each company proposed its own plan to lower cost and improve performance for a variety of missions. In addition to SpaceX and Amazon, NASA has divided the remainder of the fund among Viasat Incorporated, Telesat US Services and SES Government Solutions.
In other tech news, Elon Musk’s The Boring Company has hit a $5.6 Billion USD valuation.