SpaceX has discreetly introduced a new government-focused service called Starshield on its website, which it claims provides a “secured satellite network for government entities.” The document, which emerged earlier this week on the SpaceX website, states that while its satellite internet service Starlink is intended at end consumers and businesses, “Starshield is designed for government use.”
The Starshield announcement builds on previous collaborations between SpaceX and governments throughout the world. SpaceX secured a $2 million deal with the US Air Force in August to offer satellite internet connectivity, while Starlink has also proven critical to Ukrainian soldiers fighting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to Bloomberg, the Pentagon recently announced that it was testing Starlink broadband in the Arctic as a potential option to provide internet to US troops.
Starshield is advertised with three areas of focus: earth observation, communications, and “hosted payloads,” which CNBC notes would effectively allow governments to customize what its spacecraft can send into space. SpaceX says that Starlink already offers “end-to-end user data encryption” but that Starshield has additional security that can meet “the most demanding government requirements.” However, the exact capabilities and scope of the network were not detailed.
Another touted feature is the use of a “inter-satellite laser communications terminal” which would allow SpaceX’s gear to interface with partner satellites and operate as part of the same network.
Although Starlink was initially marketed as a solution for rural users to access faster internet, newer announcements have focused on larger-scale deployments such as satellite internet for commercial jets. This kind of scale is probably going to be required if SpaceX is to meet its previously stated target of producing more than $30 billion from satellite internet connectivity by 2025.
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