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The Pentagon says it's testing Elon Musk's Starlink in the Arctic, which could help connect US troops

Business Insider logo Business Insider 11/15/2022 kduffy@insider.com (Kate Duffy)
The US military is reportedly testing Starlink, an internet service owned by Elon Musk's SpaceX, in the Arctic. Getty Images © Nina Lyashonok/ Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Theo Wargo/Getty Images for TIME The US military is reportedly testing Starlink, an internet service owned by Elon Musk's SpaceX, in the Arctic. Getty Images
  • The US military is testing Elon Musk's SpaceX Starlink in the Arctic, per Bloomberg.
  • An Air Force engineer said the Pentagon demonstrated Starlink on a moving vehicle in Alaska.
  • The US and Russia are increasing their military presence in the Arctic.

The Pentagon is testing SpaceX's Starlink in the Arctic, which could eventually help the US troops hook up to a satellite internet connection.

Bloomberg reported the news on Monday.

So far, the Pentagon has stationed 50 Starlink terminals — the dishes that connect to the satellites in orbit — across the Arctic region, Brian Beal, a principal aerospace engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory's Strategic Development and Experimentation office, told Bloomberg.

The military is collecting data on Starlink internet speeds during the tests, which are expected to last between six and 12 months, Beal told Bloomberg.

It comes as the US and Russian militaries have focused more of their activity in the Arctic, Insider's Christopher Woody previously reported. Russia has increased its presence in the region, reopening bases and deploying new forces there, per Insider.

Over the last two weeks, the Pentagon has used Elon Musk's Starlink on a moving vehicle in Alaska, Beal said in a statement to Bloomberg. The military also planned to carry out another test in the spring, which involved demonstrating whether an aircraft can receive Starlink connection, Beal added.

Out of more than 3,200 Starlink satellites in orbit, 235 of them are located in polar orbit, which is up from 20 satellites in this region in May, Beal told Bloomberg. He expected 240 more Starlink satellites to be launched in the next six months, per the report.

Beal told Bloomberg the Pentagon was set to review whether the Arctic's harsh environment had an impact on Starlink's performance. 

SpaceX and the Pentagon didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Before testing Starlink in the Arctic, the Pentagon received a request from SpaceX in September to fund the use of the service by the Ukrainian government and military because the company said it couldn't afford it, per CNN. Musk then said SpaceX had withdrawn its request.

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