SpaceX just presented Starshield, a military satellite project that can be added to the Starlink constellation. Designed for a for government use” this program must make it possible to spy on the earth and to host military payloads. As stated by Elon Musk’s company, the various United States defense services will be able to take advantage of the constellation to “support national security efforts. »
The company voluntarily does not go into the details of this agreement, but this simple presentation already raises many questions. For the time being, the Starlink satellites will retain their original use (transmitting the Internet to the whole world from space) and a new constellation, Starshield could join them.
Starlink puts itself at the service of the American government
This new SpaceX service should allow the armed forces to have better Earth observation. Both in the United States and in other parts of the world. On its website, the company explains that it uses a “modern architecture” capable of transporting large payloads, discreetly.
Last strong axis for SpaceX, communication and data encryption. As the project is designed for government agencies, the data collected will have major strategic importance. They must be protected as best as possible.
If the parallel with the Starlink constellation is obvious, SpaceX compartmentalizes these two activities for the moment. Today 3200 “Starlink” satellites fly in orbit. Despite complaints from amateur and professional astronomers, that number is set to explode in the next few years. Elon Musk aims to reach 10,000 satellites. He has also obtained the agreement of the FCC on this point. Something that Jeff Bezos and his company Blue Origin have not (yet) succeeded in doing with their Kuiper project, an alternative to Starlink.
By offering this new service, SpaceX is still chasing profitability. The company lives for the moment on various investments, but long-term contracts with the American army would be a real breath of fresh air financially. Already on very good terms with NASA, SpaceX has been commissioned to build the lander that will bring men back to the Moon, the company plays the patriotic card to the fullest and hopes to seduce the army and the national defense services with this new service.
Elon Musk: goal Mars
In the long term Elon Musk has never hidden his desire to go to Mars. The red planet has been a dream of the entrepreneur since his childhood and he has repeatedly said that he would go there himself. But Musk knows it better than anyone, making such a journey to our “neighbor” is very expensive.
The Artemis program must bring men back to the surface of the Moon and it has already cost NASA tens of billions of dollars. Our satellite is only 300,000 kilometers from Earth. Its gravity is low, which de facto reduces the power needed during the return, and the absence of atmosphere simplifies maneuvers for landing.
To go to Mars is to carry out a three-year space mission. Never has a (manned) rocket flown so long in the history of space exploration. The cost of such a mission would be several hundred billion dollars and even the richest man in the world cannot afford such an expedition.