SpaceX unveils Starshield, internet access for states and spies


SpaceX is diversifying its range of Internet access via Starlink satellite, with an astonishing subscription reserved for state actors. Baptized Starshield, the subscription provides eligible players with an infrastructure allowing them to connect to the Internet in an ultra-secure manner, almost anywhere on the planet, as well as support, and the possibility of integrating various SpaceX.

SpaceX clarifies that Starshield access uses “additional high assurance cryptographic capability, allowing it to host classified modalities and process data securely, so as to meet even the most demanding government criteria”specifies the firm on its site.

Will SpaceX also offer Starshield to foreign states?

On the page dedicated to the service, SpaceX specifies that customers can benefit from a variety of implementations of Starlink antennas depending on their missions. It is even mentioned “interoperability” with future constellations of government or already existing satellites: “Starlink’s inter-satellite communication terminal, the only device of its kind used on a large scale in orbit to date, can be integrated on partner satellites in order to incorporate them into the Starshield network”.

Towards the end of the page, SpaceX points out that it is already working with the US Department of Defense “to provide it with capabilities both in space and on the ground”. According to the Extremetech blog, Starshield customers would benefit from very personalized support. The firm could in particular design special satellites equipped with “sensors” capable of observing the Earth if its customers ask it to do so.

A priori, the first purpose of such a subscription will be primarily the US Department of Defense. But SpaceX seems, via this page, to also indicate that Starshield access and all the services included will be offered to other countries. Of course, SpaceX will have to comply with the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) a text that restricts the international trade of American military technologies.

Obviously, it seems excluded that these accesses could be used by the Russian, Rianian or Chinese authorities whose relations with the United States remain very tense. Still, Starlink is already the best satellite internet access in the world. And that, with the addition of up to 7,500 Starlink v2 satellites, the SpaceX constellation should, in the next decade, only strengthen both its dominance in terms of satellite internet access, and its appeal for Governments.

Starlink, however, should not remain alone for long on the market. Projects for constellations of competing satellites have been mentioned, in particular OneWeb, or the European constellation project. However, with several thousand satellites already in orbit, Starlink is already far ahead of these projects. And thanks to the capacity of SpaceX launchers, the service can hope to continue to grow for a long time at a very steady pace.

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