The new program, unveiled on Dec. 2, will build on its launch and satellite communications technology and provide additional capabilities to provide a secured satellite network for government entities.
“Starlink is designed for consumer & commercial use, Starshield is designed for gov use, with focus on three areas: Earth Observation, Communications, Hosted Payloads,” said Sawyer Merritt, a Tesla investor, and analyst in a tweet.
The “hosted payloads,” system allows users to utilize a satellite bus, which is the body of the spacecraft, as a flexible platform.
The most likely customers of Starshield would appear to be the U.S. military and intelligence community, which have already invested heavily into SpaceX’s satellite technology, with key stakes in the Starlink system.
“While Starlink is designed for consumer and commercial use, Starshield is designed for government use,” wrote the company on its website.
“SpaceX’s ongoing work with the Department of Defense and other partners demonstrates our ability to provide in-space and on-ground capability at scale.”
The Ukrainian military relied heavily on Starlink’s constellation network of more than 3,200 communication satellites, which provides broadband internet access, but Musk attempted to terminate funding for Kyiv’s use of the Starlink system in October.
However, he later reversed course after the U.S. Department of Defense offered to negotiate to pick up the tab for the effort and partially due to online threats by Ukrainian officials, reported Defense News.