Elon Musk Unveils SpaceX’s New Military ‘Starshield’ Program To Prevent Russia’s Invasion | Science | News
SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space company, has unveiled a new satellite project that could be used to prevent Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The company’s new Starshield program will be used in the national security sector and will use the aerospace firm’s massive Starlink satellite technology. Starlink is Mr Musk’s satellite constellation service, which for the past year has played a critical role in Kyiv’s defense by providing them with internet access. These satellites have been deployed in the vicinity of government buildings, hospitals and schools – to help control drones used to fight the invading Russian forces.
On their new website, SpaceX said: “Starshield leverages SpaceX’s Starlink technology and launch capability to support national security efforts.”
They added that while Starlink is designed for consumer and commercial use, Starshield is designed for public use, with an initial focus on three areas.
These areas include Earth Observation, where Starshield will launch satellites with sensing payloads and deliver processed data directly to the user.
They added that the project will also provide “secure global communications to public users” with Starshield user equipment, and will build satellite buses to “support the most demanding customer payload missions.”
According to SpaceX, Starshield will offer a higher level of security than Starlink, which currently provides users with end-to-end user data encryption.
They said the project will have “additional high-security encryption capability to host classified payloads and process data securely, meeting the most demanding government requirements.”
Satellites launched as part of Starshied will be able to integrate a wide range of payloads, “offer unique versatility to users,” and will be able to “meet diverse mission requirements.
They noted that Starlink’s inter-satellite laser communications terminal, which is the only communications laser operating at scale in orbit today, can be integrated into partner satellites to enable incorporation into the Starshield network.
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SpaceX added that with “the proven ability to iterate rapidly,” their “unique full-stack approach to end-to-end systems development, from launch vehicles to user terminals, enables the deployment of capabilities at scale at unprecedented speed.”
Like Starlink, Starshield will work in low Earth orbit, giving them “inherent elasticity and constant connectivity to assets in orbit”. Meanwhile, the company’s rapid launch capabilities will offer government agencies “expedient and economical access to space.”
Their website also says, “SpaceX’s ongoing work with the Department of Defense and other partners demonstrates our ability to provide space and ground capabilities at scale.”
Deployed by US national security agencies, and using Starlink’s satellite technology, the Starshield program could play a new role in supporting Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.
Elon Musk’s support for Ukraine has drawn fury from the Kremlin, with senior foreign minister Konstantin Vorontsov warning that such commercial space systems could risk becoming legitimate military targets if they continue to work with Ukraine.
Speaking at a meeting of the UN Committee on Disarmament and International Security, Mr. Vorontsov said: “We specifically want to emphasize an extremely dangerous trend that goes beyond the harmless use of space technology and has become evident during recent developments in Ukraine.
“Namely, the use by the United States and its allies of civilian, including commercial, infrastructure elements in space for military purposes.
“Apparently, these states do not realize that such actions actually constitute indirect participation in military conflicts. Quasi-civilian infrastructure can be a legitimate target for retaliation.
“Western actions unnecessarily jeopardize the sustainability of peaceful space activities, as well as a number of social and economic processes on Earth that affect human well-being, primarily in developing countries.”