SpaceX unveils 'Starshield' Starlink service for national security usage

SpaceX launches Starshield, a new satellite broadband network and launch service aimed at government.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
Image: Getty Images

SpaceX has unveiled Starshield, which is a new Starlink satellite broadband service and network aimed at government. 

Not much has been revealed about Starshield beyond a page on SpaceX's website explaining that "Starshield leverages SpaceX's Starlink technology and launch capability to support national security efforts."

It promotes Starshield as "supporting national security" and points out that Starlink features end-to-end data encryption, which is already available on its service for consumers and business. 

"Starlink already offers unparalleled end-to-end user data encryption. Starshield uses additional high-assurance cryptographic capability to host classified payloads and process data securely, meeting the most demanding government requirements," it notes.

Also: US FCC clears SpaceX to launch 7,500 Gen2 Starlink broadband satellites

Starshield sounds like it has as much to do with the Starlink satellite network as SpaceX's capability to rapidly launch rockets that carry satellites and other payloads. For example, SpaceX says one application of Starshield is for earth observation, where "Starshield launches satellites with sensing payloads and delivers processed data directly to the user." 

Starshield also provides "assured global communications to government users with Starshield user equipment". And it can deliver hosted payloads where "Starshield builds satellite buses to support the most demanding customer payload missions." 

To that end, it touts SpaceX's ability to quickly build "end-to-end systems", spanning launch vehicles to user terminals.   

As for security, Musk has already shown Starlink's resilience in its use by Ukraine since Russia's invasion. 

The Starshield service also promises interoperability with other partner satellites. 

"Starlink's inter-satellite laser communications terminal, which is the only communications laser operating at scale in orbit today, can be integrated onto partner satellites to enable incorporation into the Starshield network," it says. 

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