On its website, SpaceX has discreetly introduced Starshield, a new service that it claims provides a “secured satellite network for government entities.” According to the page, which first appeared on the SpaceX website earlier this week, “Starshield is meant for government use,” while Starlink, the company’s satellite internet service, is targeted at end consumers and companies.
The launch of Starshield comes after previous collaborations between SpaceX and the US government and other international authorities. In August, SpaceX and the US Air Force agreed on a $2 million contract for satellite internet access. Starlink has also proven essential to Ukrainian soldiers as they fight against Russian invading forces. According to Bloomberg, the Pentagon just recently disclosed that it was testing Starlink connection in the Arctic as a possible means of providing internet to US soldiers.
The three focus areas of Starshield are Earth observation, communications, and “hosted payloads,” which, according to CNBC, would effectively allow governments to choose what spacecraft they may need to launch into space. Starlink already provides “end-to-end user data encryption,” according to SpaceX, but Starshield has extra protection that can satisfy “the most strict regulations standards.” The network’s precise capabilities and extent, however, were not specified. The use of an “inter-satellite laser communications terminal,” which would enable SpaceX’s gear to interact with partner satellites and operate as a part of the same network, is one of the other touted advantages.
Starlink first attracted attention as a method for remote clients to get speedier internet, but more recent announcements have focused on larger-scale installations like satellite internet for commercial aircraft. Such type of initiatives would likely be required if SpaceX is to meet its previously stated objective of earning more than $30 billion from satellite internet connection by 2025.