spacex, elon musk, starshield, spacex starlink satellite, starlink satellite internet

Earth’s many governments are getting their very own version of Starlink.

SpaceX recently revealed it is working on expanding its Starlink satellite internet service under its first partner project called “Starshield,” a satellite internet service designed to be used by government agencies only.

SpaceX did not mention when this new service will be available to government agencies.

SpaceX Starlink ‘Starshield’ Partner Project Details

SpaceX described Starshield on the official webpage it launched as the government-only counterpart of its consumer and commercial-use-focused Starlink satellite internet service, leveraging the company’s Starlink technology and launch capability to support national security efforts.

It centers around Earth Observation, Communications, and Hosted Payloads.

To be specific, SpaceX said it would launch satellites with sensing payloads and deliver processed data directly to the user while guaranteeing global communications to government users with Starshield user equipment.

Finally, SpaceX will have Starshield build satellite buses to support “the most demanding customer payload missions” with the ability to put a variety of instruments on the Starshiels satellite bus, per Space.com.

These areas are not the only ones SpaceX improved on for Starshield. It is also offering “unparalleled” end-to-end user data encryption using “additional high-assurance cryptographic capability” to host classified payloads, securely processing data to meet the highest government requirements.

Thanks to Starshield being based on SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet, it can be integrated into partner satellites to make Starshield interoperable with Starlink’s inter-satellite laser communications terminal.

Finally, SpaceX reveals that Starshield can be developed and deployed quickly and is resilient enough to be economical and scalable.

Although SpaceX said its ongoing work with the Department of Defense (DOD) and other partners shows it can provide in-space and on-ground capability at scale, it is unclear if Starshield will directly support military intelligence or operations, per Tech Crunch.

However, this statement does suggest that SpaceX has decided it needs to offer more specialized products to win big-ticket contracts, per Space News.

Despite that, some of Starshield’s more advanced capabilities will probably be unavailable until Space deploys its new second-generation Starlink satellites. These satellites are larger than their predecessors and capable of performance features required to host national security payloads and deliver higher encryption levels than the commercial Starlink service.

Starshield’s Conception

SpaceX may have created Starshield from its experience providing Starlink services to Ukraine, where it showed that the satellite internet service could operate even in a combat zone and is more resilient than what the US Military expected from a commercial system.

The creation of Starshield also helps SpaceX separate the offerings it can provide for world governments and consumers.

You may remember that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk previously said in mid-October that it could no longer pay for Ukraine’s Starlink bill, though he eventually backtracked on his statement.

Additionally, SpaceX seems to hope that its Starshield offering will help avoid it being defined as a global broadband provider and a supplier of military intelligence.

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