SpaceX is venturing into Earth observation (EO) and hosted payloads for national security use, with a new business line called Starshield. The company added a section to its website for Starshield on Friday, describing it as “SpaceX’s Starlink technology and launch capability to support national security efforts.” While Starlink is a commercial business that offers broadband internet via satellites in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), Starshield will support national security.
Starshield has three focus areas — EO, with satellites with sensing payloads to collect data; communications; and hosted payloads with satellite buses to support customer missions. This is the first indication of SpaceX having an Earth observation and hosted payload offering.
The Starshield tab was added to SpaceX’s website alongside Falcon 9; Falcon Heavy; Dragon; Starship; Human Spaceflight; Rideshare; and Starlink. The website did not provide many details but touted qualities like security, interoperability, rapid deployment, and resiliency.
In terms of security, the site says: “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 also claims Starlink’s inter-satellite laser communications terminal is the only communications laser currency operating at scale in orbit, and that it can be “integrated onto partner satellites to enable incorporation into the Starshield network.”
SpaceX has long supported U.S. Department of Defense with launch capabilities, and Starlink has been used to provide internet connectivity in Ukraine. SpaceX is also building missile warning and tracking satellites for the Space Development Agency for the Wide Field of View (WFOV) program.