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Musk launches govt-focused satellite internet service called Starshield

SpaceX is adding a new category of internet satellite service to its portfolio.

The private space firm, which offers high-speed broadband via its massive Starlink satellite constellation, recently revealed that it is launching a partner project called Starshield to serve government agencies.

The focus will be on customers in the national security sector, and the announcement comes in the same year that SpaceX has helped military personnel and civilians stay connected in war-torn Ukraine.

SpaceX’s new national security-focused Starshield service
SpaceX writes on the new Starshield web page that “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, with an initial focus on three areas” — those three areas are Earth observation, communications, and hosted payloads.

Starshield satellites can also utilize the same inter-satellite laser communications terminal featured on Starlink satellites. SpaceX refers to this as “the only communications laser operating at scale in orbit today.”

On top of this, SpaceX adds that Starshield will provide higher security than its regular offering and will feature “additional high-assurance cryptographic capability to host classified payloads and process data securely, meeting the most demanding government requirements.”

SpaceX’s new Starshield page provides little else in the way of specifications about its Starshield satellites or service, which is to be expected for a national security service.

SpaceX gears up toward the launch of Starlink 2.0
SpaceX currently has more than 3,200 active Starlink satellites in orbit, and it aims to grow its mega constellation in the coming months and years to bring its service to more parts of the world while maintaining a high-quality service.

The private space firm has permission from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deploy 12,000 first-generation Starlink satellites, and it has applied for approval to launch approximately 30,000 Starlink 2.0 satellites.

SpaceX plans to launch the majority of its Starlink 2.0 satellites using its in-development, fully reusable Starship rocket, which will feature a Pez dispenser-like system for deploying the satellites in orbit — as seen in the June presentation shared by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on Twitter below.

The next-generation Starlink 2.0 satellites will be larger and more powerful than their current-gen counterparts, and they will be able to beam service directly to a user’s phone.

SpaceX deployed its Starlink internet service over Ukraine shortly after Russia’s invasion in late February this year. Some reports suggested the service was keeping up to 150,000 Ukrainians connected daily, including military personnel, after Russia targeted the country’s communications infrastructure. InterestingEngineering

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