SpaceX is diversifying its range of Internet access via Starlink satellite, with a stunning subscription reserved for government actors. Baptized Starshield, the subscription provides eligible players with an infrastructure that allows them to connect to the Internet in an ultra-secure way, almost anywhere on the planet, as well as support and the ability to integrate various SpaceX.
SpaceX clarifies that Starshield access uses “Additional high security cryptographic capability that enables hosting classified modalities and securely processing data to meet even the most demanding government criteria”specifies the company on its website.
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 government constellations or already existing satellites: “Starlink’s inter-satellite communications terminal, the only device of its kind so far used at scale in orbit, can be integrated on partner satellites 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 give it capabilities both in space and on the ground”. According to the Extremetech blog, Starshield customers would benefit from highly personalized support. In particular, the company could design special satellites equipped with “sensors” capable of observing the Earth if its customers ask it to.
A priori, the first purpose of such a subscription will primarily be the US Department of Defense. But SpaceX, via this page, also seems to indicate that Starshield access and all the included services will be offered to other countries. Of course SpaceX must comply International rules on arms trade (ITAR) a text that restricts international trade in US military technologies.
It seems, of course, that it is out of the question that these accesses could be used by the Russian, Iranian or Chinese authorities, whose relations with the United States remain very tense. Yet Starlink is already the best satellite internet access in the world. And that the SpaceX constellation, with the addition of up to 7,500 Starlink v2 satellites, should in the next decade only strengthen both its dominant position in terms of satellite Internet access and its appeal for governments.
However, Starlink should not remain alone in the market for long. Projects for constellations of competing satellites have been mentioned, notably OneWeb or the European Constellation Project. But with several thousand satellites already in orbit, Starlink is already way ahead of these projects. And thanks to the capacity of SpaceX rockets, the service can hope to continue to grow for a long time at a very steady pace.