SpaceX Is Reportedly Building Secret U.S. Spy Satellites

As part of an undercover $1.8 billion contract, Elon Musk’s SpaceX is developing hundreds of spy satellites for a US intelligence agency, according to Reuters. The deal, signed in 2021, aims to put hundreds of low-orbiting satellites with Earth-viewing capabilities into a powerful spy system.

The Reuters report also mentions tighter ties with the Pentagon. SpaceX’s Starshield business will build the surveillance satellite network. The $1.8 billion contract also demonstrates that the intelligence community is growing more optimistic about SpaceX despite Musk’s differences with the Biden administration on a number of subjects, including the use of Starlink satellites in Ukraine.

Starshield is a series of low-Earth orbit surveillance satellites designed to support US ground operations. The satellites can track targets on Earth and transmit data to US military and intelligence agencies. This initiative could significantly improve the US military and government’s ability to locate potential targets anywhere in the world.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets have launched roughly twelve prototypes since 2020. Moreover, despite never being acknowledged by the company or the government, a number of SpaceX missions that launched satellites are included in a US government database of objects in orbit.

According to a Reuters, the US and its foreign rivals are working harder to expand their spy satellite networks from large, costly spacecraft to a low-orbit network that can offer speedier and continuous imagery of the planet. This includes the Starshield network.

Notably, China is getting set to launch its own constellation of satellites soon, and the US Pentagon has previously warned about the threat presented by a Russian space weapon that might take down entire satellite networks.

However, Starshield is anticipated to significantly improve the US government’s remote sensing capabilities and is built to survive attacks from the major space powers. The Starshield network will consist of large satellites with image sensors and several satellite relays that use inter-satellite lasers to transmit communications and imaging data between them.

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