SpaceX launches new Starlink service specifically aimed at governments

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SpaceX has quietly announced a new government-focused service on its website – Starshield – that it says provides a “secure satellite network for government agencies.” The page, which appeared on the SpaceX website earlier this week, says that while its satellite Internet service Starlink is aimed at end users and businesses, “Starshield is designed for government use.”

Starshield’s announcement follows work SpaceX has already done with the US and other governments around the world. In August, SpaceX signed a $2 million deal with the US Air Force to provide satellite Internet access, and Starlink has also proved crucial to Ukraine’s armed forces defending against Russia’s invasion of the country (although the technology hasn’t been without its problems ). Last month, the Pentagon said it was testing Starlink connectivity in the Arctic, seen as a possible way to offer connectivity to US troops, Bloomberg reported.

SpaceX has already signed multimillion-dollar contracts with the US government

Starshield is advertised with three areas of focus: Earth observation, communications, and “hosted payloads”, which CNBC notes would effectively allow governments to customize what their spacecraft can send into space. SpaceX says Starlink already offers “end-to-end encryption of user data,” but Starshield has additional security that can meet “the most demanding government requirements.” However, the exact capabilities and scope of the network were not detailed.

Other claimed features include the use of an “inter-satellite laser communication terminal” that allows SpaceX’s hardware to communicate with partner satellites and function as part of the same network.

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