NASA has just granted a budget of 278.5 million dollars (256 million euros) to six private sector companies including SpaceX and Amazon, to develop the next generation of space communications.
NASA wants to replace its old satellites
The American space agency has therefore chosen six companies to develop the new technologies that will ensure good communication in space, close to the Earth. This new generation of space communications should make it possible to support future NASA missions. As specified in its press release, if the American space agency has chosen to work with external partners on this subject, it is because this should allow it to reduce costs and focus its efforts on space exploration and science missions.
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A NASA spokesperson clarified that “Adopting this next generation of space communications technology will allow future missions to leverage private sector investment, which far exceeds what government can do”. Currently, the American space agency relies on its own system of satellites for communications in space, close to the Earth. It turns out that many of these satellites were launched in the 80s and 90s… The system is getting old and should be decommissioned in the years to come.
SpaceX gets the biggest budget
NASA has therefore released a budget of 278.5 million euros and SpaceX gets the biggest slice of the cake. Elon Musk’s company has offered a “commercial high-speed low-orbit optical relay network”. The company is allocated a budget of 70 million dollars to develop this project. SpaceX has a good command of the subject thanks to Starlink and already has many satellites in low earth orbit. Just behind, Amazon gets $67 million to develop its Kuiper project (a network of 3,236 satellites).
Then there are Viasat Incorporated ($53.3 million), Telesat US Services ($30.65 million), SES Government Solutions ($28.96 million) and Inmarsat Government ($28.6 million). Each of the six partners will have to present a first space solution by 2025 and show that their technology is capable of offering a new form of “high-speed, high-capacity communication”. NASA promises to develop several long-term contracts with the companies that manage to develop the best technologies.