Sources Reveal: SpaceX, Led by Musk, Constructs Spy Satellite Network for U.S. Intelligence Agency

SpaceX is involved in constructing a substantial network of surveillance satellites under a confidential agreement with a U.S. intelligence agency, according to five sources with knowledge of the initiative.

This highlights a deepening relationship between Elon Musk’s space enterprise and national security entities.

The network is being developed by SpaceX’s Starshield division under a $1.8 billion contract inked in 2021 with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), responsible for managing spy satellites, as per the sources.

This undertaking underscores SpaceX’s increasing participation in U.S. intelligence and military endeavors, reflecting a significant Pentagon commitment to expansive satellite systems in low-Earth orbit to support ground forces.

SpaceX, Led by Musk, Constructs Spy Satellite Network for U.S. Intelligence Agency, Sources Reveal to Reuters
Starshield aims to revolutionize space surveillance, providing rapid, pervasive coverage for military operations. (Credits: Universe Today)

If successful, the program is anticipated to greatly enhance the U.S. government and military’s capacity to identify potential targets across the globe swiftly.

“The National Reconnaissance Office is developing the most capable, diverse, and resilient space-based intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance system the world has ever seen,” a spokesperson said.

The satellites will be capable of monitoring ground targets and relaying this data to U.S. intelligence and military authorities, facilitating intelligence and military operations, according to the sources.

The Pentagon, a major customer of SpaceX, often employs its Falcon 9 rockets to launch military payloads into space. Starshield’s initial prototype satellite, launched in 2020, was part of a distinct, approximately $200 million contract, paving the way for the subsequent $1.8 billion agreement.

The envisioned Starshield network is distinct from Starlink, SpaceX’s expanding commercial broadband constellation, which currently operates approximately 5,500 satellites to offer near-global internet coverage.

SpaceX, Led by Musk, Constructs Spy Satellite Network for U.S. Intelligence Agency, Sources Reveal to Reuters
SpaceX is constructing a spy satellite network for U.S. intelligence, enhancing global target identification capabilities. (Credits: Space X)

Musk, also the CEO of Tesla and owner of social media company X (formerly Twitter), has been instrumental in advancing space technology but has drawn criticism from some Biden administration officials due to his past control of Starlink during the Ukraine conflict.

The Starshield network reflects escalating competition between the U.S. and its adversaries to establish dominance in space, emphasizing expanding spy satellite systems into lower orbits for enhanced coverage and resilience.

China is also planning its satellite constellations, while the Pentagon has cautioned about space-based weapon threats from Russia.

The NRO, which collaborates with the U.S. Space Force and CIA, supplies classified satellite imagery to the Pentagon and other intelligence agencies.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
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