SpaceX Launches ‘Starshield’ Satellite Network for Government Entities

SpaceX has launched Starshield, a new, secured satellite service geared toward government entities and national security applications. It sounds kind of like Starlink, but for the government instead of regular consumers and capable of more than just providing an internet connection.

“Starshield leverages SpaceX’s Starlink technology and launch capability to support national security efforts. While Starlink is designed for consumer and commercial use, Starshield is designed for government use,” SpaceX explained.

According to SpaceX, Starshield will initially focus on three areas:

  • Earth Observation — Starshield launches satellites with sensing payloads and delivers processed data directly to the user.
  • Communications — Starshield provides assured global communications to government users with Starshield user equipment.
  • Hosted Payloads — Starshield builds satellite buses to support the most demanding customer payload missions.

SpaceX has been contracted for dozens of launches by NASA, and Starshield sets the company up for even more (patently lucrative) government contracts.

The company touted the security of Starshield, noting that the network uses additional high-assurance cryptographic capabilities on top of Starlink’s end-to-end encryption to meet even the most demanding government requirements.

What’s more, Starshield satellites will feature a modular design, making them capable of integrating a wide variety of payloads for maximum versatility. They will also be interoperable with Starlink’s inter-satellite laser communications terminal, which is the only communications laser operating at scale in orbit today.

In addition, SpaceX said the Starshield network will feature the same unprecedented deployment speed as its other efforts.

“Starshield’s proliferated low-Earth orbit architecture provides inherent resiliency and constant connectivity to on-orbit assets, while SpaceX’s proven rapid launch capability provides expedient and economical access to space.”

While SpaceX already beats out every other competitor in launch costs by a significant margin, the company will be able to drive prices even lower once its Starship and Super Heavy launch vehicle becomes operational. SpaceX is planning its first orbital launch of Starship for this month.